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Eoin Ó Broin Leah Farrell
Women in the Home

Sinn Féin says it will support a Yes vote in the upcoming referendums

Last week, Sinn Féin’s Sorcha Clarke said the two referendums run the risk of being a missed opportunity to deliver genuine change.

SINN FÉIN WILL support a Yes vote in both of the upcoming referendums in March, TD Eoin Ó Broin has revealed. 

The main opposition party said last week that it was reserving judgement until it could consider the wording of the final text which is set to be confirmed later today when the Seanad finishes its debate on the matter.

Speaking to reporters outside Leinster House this morning, Ó Broin said it is his understanding that his party would be supporting a Yes vote in both of the referendums scheduled to take place in March. 

On International Women’s Day, on 8 March, voters will be asked to decide whether they want to accept changes to the Irish Constitution relating to the provision of care and a woman’s place in the home. 

Voters are being asked if they want 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

Ó Broin said although Sinn Féin are awaiting the final wording to come out of the Seanad later today, it is his understanding that his party will be supporting Yes votes.

He said although there is still debate about the final wording, Sinn Féin is in favour of updating the language in the constitution. 

“Ultimately, both with respect to carers and also with the outdated language of women in the home, there is a job of work to be done to address those kind of historic issues,” he said.

“So as it currently stands, the answer is yes,” he added.

Sinn Féin did not table any amendments to the legislation as it passed through the Dáil and Seanad but did support a number of amendments made by other opposition parties.

In a statement to The Journal last week, a party spokesperson said: 

“These are important referendums. Of course our constitution should reflect the diverse reality of life in modern Ireland and it’s right that outdated language should be updated. 

“Carers feel abandoned and let down by government. They need to see their rights strengthened and much more substantial supports delivered, whether they are a parent to a young child, someone caring for an elderly relative, or someone supporting a relative with a disability.

 “A Sinn Féin government would stand up for carers and ensure they are finally supported and recognised for the crucial role that they play. 

“We believe that the wording of the proposed changes could be improved and supported amendments in the Dáil this week accordingly. For instance, the language in the ‘family amendment’ is unclear and while the ‘carer’s amendment’ does not cause any harm it’s not clear how it actively benefits carers.

“It is disappointing that the government did not accept these sensible amendments and still have not given sufficient reasons as to why they have not reflected the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly and Committee on the wording.”

Last week, Sinn Féin’s Sorcha Clarke said the two referendums run the risk of being a missed opportunity to deliver genuine change because the government “dragged its heels” and rejected the wording proposed by the Citizens’ Assembly. 

In terms of other political parties, the government parties – Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party – are all advocating for a ‘Yes’ vote, of course. 

People Before Profit, though speaking out about their reservations, have also stated that it will back a ‘Yes’ vote. 

The Social Democrats are understood to be begrudgingly backing  a ‘Yes’ vote, with sources within the party stating that it is “the right thing to do”. The party, which tabled amendments to the legislation this week, believe the government’s wording doesn’t go far enough, but that a no vote would be damaging. 

The Labour Party has tabled amendments again in the Seanad this week, and once the Seanad completes its consideration of the legislation, a meeting of the party’s executive board will take place tomorrow to consider the matter before announcing the party’s intentions.

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