A coalition of five national organisations  has written an open letter to the Taoiseach saying time is needed for a national conversation on the Family, Care, and Gender Equality referendum. 

Dear Taoiseach,

In March of this year, the government announced a historic referendum to amend our constitution in line with the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality. It was recommended to remove the limits on women’s role, to value and recognise care in the home and the wider community; and to protect all families equally. We believe this referendum represents a unique opportunity to ensure our constitution respects and reflects the diversity of the people and families of Ireland today.

In the referendum timeline published by government, wording was expected by mid-May. This deadline has passed. Without knowing the exact wording, it will be increasingly difficult to build a civil society response. This is unfair to the families and communities directly impacted and to the Irish people who need time to discuss these core issues.

We hope the delay does not signal a government backtrack from the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly and the Joint Oireachtas Committee; specifically, removing the outmoded reference to ‘women in the home’; the recognition of the importance of care; and a more inclusive definition of family that protects all families.

We are seeking your urgent clarification on when the referendum wording will be published. It is critical that the Irish public have sufficient time to have a national conversation on these important issues for Irish society. We have an opportunity now more than ever to make Ireland a more inclusive and caring place to live.

Yours Sincerely,

Orla O’Connor – National Women’s Council of Ireland

Damien Peelo – Treoir

Catherine Cox – Family Carers Ireland

Karen Kiernan – One Family

Ethel Buckley – SIPTU