Organisations call for wording on upcoming referendum to be published

A coalition of 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

If the family, care and gender equality referendum is to go ahead in November, then the wording that people will be asked to vote on must be published as soon as possible to allow time for a national conversation. That is according to a coalition of organisations who sent an open letter to the Taoiseach this week.

The government announced a referendum last March on foot of recommendations from the Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality. They recommended a referendum to remove the Constitutional limits on women; to value and recognise care in the home and the wider community; and to protect all families equally.

Director of the National Women’s Council, Orla O’Connor, said:

“Our Constitution, our foundational document, contains restrictive language on women’s role in society. It is outdated and carries a legacy of the mistreatment of women up to today. It’s important this is amended so that it reflects the value of care and everyone’s role in care right across our society. NWC is looking forward to a national conversation on these issues but unless wording is published soon, we’re concerned about the proposed timeline.”

SIPTU Deputy General Secretary Ethel Buckley said:

“As the union of paid care workers – numbering up to 100,000 people in Ireland – we want to ensure the work of carers on the front line in the home and in the community is recognised and valued. A national conversation on issues as significant as women’s role in society, the value and recognition of care both inside the home and in the wider community, and the definition of family, deserves time.”

Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family said:

“This referendum is an opportunity to offer recognition to families who have been mistreated over the years. There are families living in Ireland now who are not recognised as such in our Constitution, who have been waiting years for recognition. Government owes it to them to publish wording as soon as possible before the referendum.”

Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Policy at Family Carers Ireland, said:

“We believe this referendum, and in particular, the replacement of Article 41.2 with wording that recognises the societal value of care in the home and wider community and obliges the State to take measures to support family carers, is a milestone moment in our history and therefore are calling for the urgent publication of the wording.”

The letter is signed by five organisations: Treoir, Family Carers Ireland, One Family, the National Women’s Council (NWC) and SIPTU. There are a large number of other organisations who are keen to support the referendum but cannot do so until the wording is published.