Constitutional change proposed

Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald and Sinn Fein TD Mary Lou McDonald speak at the Constitutional Convention in Malahide, Co Dublin. Photograph: Alan Betson

Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald and Sinn Fein TD Mary Lou McDonald speak at the Constitutional Convention in Malahide, Co Dublin. Photograph: Alan Betson


The Constitutional Convention has today voted in favour of amending the clause on women in the home, with 88 per cent of participants saying the clause should be changed.

Article 41.2 says the State recognises that be her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.

Article 41.2.2 says 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 home.

In the vote, 11 per cent said the clause should remain untouched and 1 per cent had no opinion.

However, a narrow majority of 50 per cent believed the Constitution should not place a duty on the State to take positive action to enhance women’s participation in politics and public life.

At the convention meeting in Malahide, Co Dublin today, a questions and answers session took place with advocacy groups including the Women's Council of Ireland, the 50:50 Group and Women for Election.

Yesterday afternoon Fiona Buckley of 50:50 said the under-representation of women was an “affront to the democratic ideals of justice and inequality”. She said Ireland had an “abysmal record”, with the Dáil having always been at least 85 per cent male.

Niamh Gallagher of Women for Election said women involved in community groups could not see how their leadership at a local level could transfer into politics.

Referring to incoming gender quotas for candidate selection, Ms Gallagher said more women were not going to come into politics “just through measures at the top level”.

The convention this morning heard presentations from the National Women’s Council of Ireland and Curam, a non-Government organisation seeking recognition and support for the unremunerated work of parents and carers.

Delegates queried the implications of the current wording for widowers bringing up children and called for the text to be updated to take account of gay parents and other forms of carers, such as an elderly sibling caring for another.

The convention, chaired by Tom Arnold the chief executive of Concern, has been convened to make determinations on at least eight proposed constitutional changes. Its decisions are not binding on Government but it must respond to each decision made within four months.

The convention is comprised of Mr Arnold, 33 politicians from both jurisdictions, and 66 citizens selected by age, sex, geography and social status.

Last month the convention voted in favour of lowering the voting age but rejected the reduction of the presidential term of office from seven years to five.

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