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Women in the Home

Political parties to table amendments to referendum wording as Sinn Féin seeks 'clarifications'

Legislation to approve the upcoming referendums is to be debated in Dáil today.

A NUMBER OF opposition parties are to table amendments to the wording of the upcoming referendums on care and family. 

Legislation to approve the referendums is due to be debated in the Dáil today and in the Seanad next week. 

A number of political parties and civil society groups have raised concerns about the proposed wording of the referendums.

Opposition parties including Labour, the Social Democrats, People Before Profit and the Rural Independents group are tabling amendments to the legislation, while Sinn Féin is reserving its position and seeking clarity on a number of issues. 

Government is not expected to accept the amendments being put down by other parties. 

In less than two months voters will be asked if they wish to:

  • amend Article 41 of the Constitution to provide for a wider concept of family (i.e. not one only based on marriage)
  • delete Article 41.2 of the Constitution to remove text on the role of women in the home, and insert a new Article 42B to recognise family care

The family amendment, the 39th Amendment of the Constitution, proposes to amend Article 41.1.1 to insert the words “whether founded on marriage or on other durable relationships”.

It also proposes the deletion of the words “on which the Family is founded” from Article 41.3.1.

The care amendment, the 40th amendment, proposes to delete Article 41.2 from the Constitution and insert an Article 42B with the following 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.”

Sinn Féin seeking clarifications 

When asked by The Journal today if Sinn Féin is to table amendments, TD Eoin Ó Broin said “not at this stage”. 

“We support the principle of what the government is trying to do with both of these referenda,” he said. 

However, he added that it is “crucial” the wording of the referendums is right.

While he said other parties are putting down amendments, Sinn Féin have “some clarifications that we’ll be asking”.

“What you don’t want is bad drafting or unintended consequences. We need the wording to be right. So at this stage, we’re really focusing on understanding it properly, hearing through the arguments of the amendments,” he said. 

“I think what would be best is all of those parties, ourselves included, to support the intention of the government’s bills, and have a role in trying to shape those.

“At this point, we’re not proposing amendments, but we do have questions and queries…

“What we’re saying is let’s work together on this. Let’s make sure the wording does what we all want it to do. So long as the wording is correct. Then obviously, we’ll support it on that basis, but the wording still has to be finalised. So that’s where our focus is at this point,” said Ó Broin. 


People Before Profit has said it will tabling amendments calling for a non-discrimination clause to be added to Article 40.1, for the abolition of the outmoded constitutional requirement for the State to guard the institution of marriage from attack. 

It calls for much stronger wording that obliges the government to provide the necessary resources to support care, whether inside or outside the home and family. 

Labour is seeking a change to the wording to ensure the “State recognises that care within and outside the home and family gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved. The State shall, therefore, take reasonable measures to support care within and outside the home and family”. 

The Social Democrats’ amendments also relate to the State recognition of the provision of care by members of a family, and within the wider community.