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Government told to alter 'women in the home' clause

The Convention on the Constitution submitted its recommendation to the Oireachtas today.

Image: Carl Nesensohn/AP/Press Association Images

THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION has recommended a change to the clause in Ireland’s Constitution which specifies the role of women in the home.

In a report to the Oireachtas today, the Convention advised altering article 41.2 to make it gender-neutral.

A majority of the 66 citizens and 33 parliamentarians believes that the article should include all carers inside and outside the home. Voters also recommended that the State should offer a “reasonable level of support” to ensure carers “shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour”.

When asked if the clause should be left as is, 11 per cent said ‘Yes’, 88 per cent said ‘No’ and 1 per cent had ‘no opinion’.

However, just 12 per cent said it should be deleted. The remaining 88 per cent said it should be amended or modified in some way.

Currently, article 41.2 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.
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.

The Dáil must hold a full debate within four months to address the issues raised in the Convention’s second report. If the government agrees with the recommendations, a timeline for a referendum will be established.

In addition to the recommended change to the women in the home clause, the Convention also outlined the need for an explicit provision on gender equality. Although a constitutional provision to enhance participation in public life and in politics was narrowly defeated, a significant majority recommended more action on the issue.

The next meeting of the Convention is due to take place on the 18 and 19 May. Dáil electoral systems and the way Ireland elects its politicians will be the focus of the gathering.

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