Further referendums unlikely in current Government’s lifetime

Fragile Dáil arithmetic means abortion legislation the priority, say Ministers

Referendums mooted by the Government include removing the prioritising of a woman’s domestic role over work. Photograph: Alan Betson

Referendums mooted by the Government include removing the prioritising of a woman’s domestic role over work. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Further referendums in the Government’s lifetime are unlikely, according to Cabinet sources.

Although the minority Coalition is committed to further constitutional reform, its fragile Dáil arithmetic would make it difficult to definitively pencil in further polls.

“It would be tempting to capitalise on the success of the abortion referendum, and that would be possible if we had a Dáil majority,’’ said a Cabinet source.

“But the reality is that this arrangement with Fianna Fáil, to keep us in power, could collapse at any time.’’

Referendums mooted by the Government include removing the prioritising of a woman’s domestic role over work.

The Constitution says 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’’.

It adds that the State would 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’’.

Possible referendums

Other possible referendums centre on removing blasphemy as an offence, allowing for directly elected mayors, giving Oireachtas committees more powers, reducing the time between the break-up of a marriage and divorce and extending voting rights to emigrants.

Ministers now believe that the immediate priority is to have the postreferendum legislation passed by the end of the year or earlier.

Fianna Fáil has committed itself to maintaining its “confidence and supply’’ arrangement until next October’s budget.

“If you look at the timeframe, there appears to be little flexibility in terms of holding another referendum,’’ said a Minister.

However, Government sources said if President Michael D Higgins decides to run again, and is challenged, leading to an October election, holding a referendum on the same day might be considered.