GSG 05-54 Referendums on Family and Care



On Friday 8th March 2024, we have the opportunity to vote on two referendums, which if passed, will require amendments to our Constitution. This constitutional change was recommended by the Citizens’ Assembly on gender equality in 2021 and also by a special Joint Oireachtas committee in 2022.

The Family Referendum

 The first referendum proposal is to extend the protections of the family to a wider definition beyond marital families to include those in durable relationships.  According to the Electoral Commission, “The Family founded on other durable relationships means a Family based on different types of committed and continuing relationships other than marriage. So, different types of family units would have the same constitutional rights and protections”.

Both referendums were discussed at a recent meeting of the ICTU Executive Council with Minister Roderic O’Gorman in attendance. On the referendum regarding the definition of family, ICTU has supported a yes vote which will in effect recognise the diversity of family life in Ireland where there are 150,000 cohabiting couples and over 200,000 single parent families.

The CWU also supports a yes vote so that our constitution will give equality and inclusion to all these families.

The Care Referendum

 Regarding the second referendum on care, the proposal involves deleting Article 41.2.1° and Article 41.2.2° and inserting a new Article 42B.

Currently Article 41.2.1 reads “In particular, the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.” and Article 41.2.2 reads “The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.”

 A majority yes vote will remove Articles 41.2.1° and 41.2.2° and a new Article 42B will be inserted into the Constitution which reads as follows:

The State recognises that the provision of care, by members of a family to one another by reason of the bonds that exist among them, gives to Society a support without which the common good cannot be achieved, and shall strive to support such provision.”

While ICTU relayed to the Minister that there was a lost opportunity to not include both care within the home and the wider community, the Minister advised that the State would “strive to support” the provision of care within families which would include the wider care infrastructure. ICTU advocates a yes vote on that basis.

CWU also encourages a yes vote which will provide constitutional recognition for Ireland’s family carers, both women and men. It also means that the outdated language regarding mothers’ duties in the home would be removed.

 The CWU is encouraging our members to vote a strong Yes Yes as we need to see change in our constitution.

While taking our lead from Congress, we have also consulted with the National Women’s Council of Ireland of which we are members. In effect on 8th March, by voting Yes Yes, we are voting on new amended wording in the constitution which we believe is a step in the right direction for women, for carers, and for families.

Members are encouraged to inform themselves on the rewording of the constitution by reading the Electoral Commission documentation, or by visiting their website.


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