Referendum on Who is Family – symbolic reparation for wrongs of the past

One Family welcomes announcement of commitment for referendum on who is family and care in the Constitution.

Press release:

Wednesday, 8 March 2022

One Family – Ireland’s national organisation for one-parent families has welcomed today’s announcement that a referendum on Family, Care and Gender Equality is to be held in November 2023 saying that an inclusive view to family can act as an ‘act of symbolic reparation’ for the wrongs of the past. The planned referendum announced by the Taoiseach this morning comes following the report of the Citizens Assembly on Gender Equality, the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Gender Equality and following years of campaigning by one-parent families groups seeking equality for non-marital families.

One Family CEO Karen Kiernan said, “We welcome today’s announcement of a date for a referendum on Gender Equality and the Definition of the Family.  The current Article 41.3 of the Constitution on the definition of the family denies one-parent families the same constitutional protection as married families and we will be campaigning for this to change in the forthcoming referendum. Given Ireland’s grim treatment of unmarried parents and their children in previous decades, a vote to change this Article  could be seen as an act of a symbolic reparation for the sins of the past. We need this combined with a new inclusive financial reparation for survivors of the Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalene Laundries to help to heal the wounds of the past.”

One Family/Cherish founder Maura O’Dea Richards said, “As a so-called ‘unmarried mother’ in 1970s Ireland. I repeatedly saw women with no choice, who were forced to put their children up for adoption, go into Mother & Baby Homes or become homeless and outcast. While Article 41.3 of the Constitution has little practical impact on the lives of families today – I believe it is a symbol. A symbol of discrimination and isolation. It tells families they are ‘other’ they are outside our community and society. All families are entitled to respect and protection. Discrimination against families who are not married must end and a vote to change Article 41.3 is a hugely symbolic step to achieve this .”


For Editors:

One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s national organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting or separating, offering support, information and services to all members of all one-parent families, to those sharing parenting, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to professionals working with one-parent families. Children are at the centre of One Family’s work and the organisation helps all the adults in their lives, including mums, dads, grandparents, step-parents, new partners and other siblings, offering a holistic model of specialist family support services.

These services include the lo-call askonefamily national helpline on 0818 66 22 12, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. For further information, visit The askonefamily helpline can be contacted on 0818 66 22 12 or 01-6629212.

For further information visit:

Available for Interview

Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 086 850 9191

Further Information/Scheduling

Noel Sweeney, Communications and Events Manager | t: 085 7241294