Voting Yes-No on Family-Care Amendments

Voting Yes-No on Family-Care Amendments

On March 8, two referendums will be held, the Family amendment and the Care amendment. I will be voting Yes on the Family amendment and No on the Care amendment.

11 March, 2024

Both referendums got a resounding No vote. It’s not something I can celebrate because nothing was won here. This is something that we do need to revisit and get right.

Article 41 of our Constitution fails to recognise all the different types of families in our society and it’s sexist. That does need to change.

But within Article 41 is an implicit acknowledgement that our state must protect and enable what truly matters, the people of our state. Isn’t that why we fought hard to have a Republic? We need wording that removes the sexist elements of Article 41 and that recognises Family in all its many forms, while acknowledging the obligation on our state to care for all its citizens.

Let’s get the wording right, have the wording properly debated in the Oireachtas, and let’s improve our Constitution.

03 March, 2024

I’ve been reading a lot of tweets by carers and people with disabilities, and related groups or advocates. They support a Yes on the Family amendment and a No on the Care amendment. And they make a lot of sense. I wasn’t sure when I first posted this how I would vote. But I think it’s very important to listen to people who are directly affected, so I will be voting Yes No.

It’s hard to choose which tweets, but here’s three:

https://x.com/TomClonan/status/1750804303151849586

19 February, 2024

FLAC, the Free Legal Advice Centres, are supporting the Family Amendment but have criticised the wording of the Care Amendment as a step backwards. You can find out more in this Irish Times article. Or read FLAC’s statement directly.

10 February, 2024

The Family Amendment

The proposed amendment expands the definition of the family to include relationships that aren’t based on marriage. I fully support this amendment. I’m voting Yes to the Family amendment and I really can’t understand why anyone would vote No to this.

You can read all about the Family amendment on the Electoral Commission’s website – https://www.electoralcommission.ie/referendums/referendum-information/what-are-you-being-asked-to-decide-on/#FamilyAmendment

The Care Amendment

Prior to reading up on it, I assumed you’d have to be a lunatic to vote No to either of these amendments.

The Care Amendment proposes to delete Article 41.2.1 and Article 41.2.2 and insert a new Article 42B. My understanding of these articles was that they say a woman’s place is in the home and the state will protect that role. Below is the actual text of these articles:

Article 41.2.1° “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.”

Article 41.2.2° “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.”

And below is the proposed text of the Article 42B which will replace them:

“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.”

The old Article 41.2.2 very definitely places an obligation on our state to financially support carers. Is it a problem that it narrows the definition of carers down to mothers? Most definitely. But is it right that our state be obligated to recognise the important role of carers and to financially support them in that role when necessary? Yes, I think it is.

Obviously, I don’t like that our constitution currently says that a woman’s place is in the home. I would like Article 41.2.1 and Article 41.2.2 to be changed to recognise the value of all carers, regardless of their gender or family status. But I want our constitution to retain the obligation on our state to financially support carers when necessary.

Decide for yourself

Admittedly, I’m not at my sharpest at the moment. And it worries me that many of the sensible commentators are recommending a Yes-Yes vote, while I’ve decided to vote No to the Care amendment. I really don’t want to support an article of the constitution that basically states that a woman’s place is in the home. But I also don’t want to end what is essentially a constitutional obligation on our state to financially support carers.

I just wanted to share my thoughts and to say I am definitely voting Yes on the Family amendment and I am reluctantly but also definitely voting No on the Care amendment.

I’m not telling anyone how to vote. Please read it all for yourself, it’s not long, on the Electoral Commission’s website – https://www.electoralcommission.ie/referendums/referendum-information/what-are-you-being-asked-to-decide-on/#CareAmendment