Remove ‘women in the home’ clause from Constitution, says Nash

Minister says Article that prioritises women’s domestic duties over career is ‘offensive’

Minister Ged Nash said Article 41.2 of Constitution, which could be put to a popular vote, was ‘completely outdated, completely anachronistic’. Photograph: David Meehan / The Irish Times

Minister Ged Nash said Article 41.2 of Constitution, which could be put to a popular vote, was ‘completely outdated, completely anachronistic’. Photograph: David Meehan / The Irish Times

 

The Labour Party has committed to removing a section of the Constitution that stipulates that a woman place is in the home as part of its general election manifesto.

Leading the charge, Minister for Business and Employment Ged Nash said this Article was “offensive” and long past being offered up to the electorate for amendment.

“It’s completely outdated, completely anachronistic. I don’t believe these types of opinions are held. I think it’s time the Constitution kept up with the attitudes of the majority of people,” he told The Irish Times.

Article 41.2 of the Constitution prioritises a woman’s domestic role over work. It reads: “The State recognises that that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.

“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.”

In keeping with the same appetite for recognising evolving social attitudes that precipitated the same-sex marriage referendum in 2015, the Labour Party has set its sights on removing that language.

This section has been addressed by the Constitution Convention but the issue has never put to the public in a referendum. Labour says they intend to do so if the party is returned to power in the general election.

A vote by members of the Constitutional Convention on whether Article 41.2 should be left as it is resulted in a No vote of 88 per cent in 2013. Rather, 98 per cent voted in favour of amending the wording to render it gender neutral.

“For some time we have been determined to try and address this issue,” Mr Nash said.

“It’s more redolent of Ireland in the 1930s when the Constitution was constructed. We don’t believe it is a reflection of a modern Ireland.

“We want to remove all of the remaining barriers to achieving full equality in Ireland and this is one of them.”

The Minister played down any suggestion socially progressive measures were the strongest platform on which Labour could fight the forthcoming election.

The party’s work, including his own on the Low Pay Commission and minimum wage reform, demonstrated they were committed to both social and economic issues, Mr Nash said.