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Care referendum

Legal body FLAC criticises ‘sexist’, 'ineffective' care amendment ahead of referendum

The group has supported the family amendment, which concerns the role of women in the home.

THE FREE LEGAL ADVICE Centre (FLAC) has expressed concern about the possible consequences of the proposed care amendment to the Constitution, calling it “sexist” and “ineffective”.

The group’s legal analysis concluded that the amendment is unlikely to provide carers, people with disabilities or older people with new enforceable rights or improved services from the State.

The other referendum that will be held on 8 March, concerning the definition of family, has the support of FLAC, which says it will lead to practical improvements in the lives of diverse families that come within the definition of “durable relationships”.

FLAC described the wording of the care referendum as “ineffective”, saying it risks supporting “harmful stereotypes” such as the concept that the provision of care is the “private responsibility of unpaid family members” without any guarantee of State support. 

The existing Article 41.2 refers to women’s duties and life in the home.

“Like the explicitly sexist ‘women in the home’ provision, the proposed Article 42B endorses a status quo where women undertake the bulk of unpaid care work and places no obligation whatsoever on the State to redress this gender imbalance – rendering it an implicitly sexist amendment,” the group said.

“It also would give constitutional expression to the harmful stereotype of people with disabilities as the subjects of family care rather than autonomous individuals and rights-holders.”

FLAC added that the change doesn’t enhance, “and potentially compromises”, the rights of people with disabilities as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

If the country votes in favour of the amendment, Article 41.2 will be deleted from the Constitution and a new Article 42B will be inserted with the wording: ‘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.”

This week saw two government parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, launch their Yes Yes campaigns in Dublin.

The Green Party, Sinn Féin, the Labour Party, People Before Profit and the Social Democrats have all backed a Yes vote for both referendums too.

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