The Constitution, family and care

Words and deeds

Sir, – The carer referendum increasingly seems to be a choice between politicians who have continually failed to hold senior HSE managers accountable on failing disability services, along with Government-funded NGOs, advocating Yes, and those with actual lived experience of caring advocating No.

I’d suggest that if politicians and NGOs are really concerned with the needs of those with disabilities, their energies would be better served providing disability services and holding HSE senior managers accountable when they fail to provide those services. – Yours, etc,




Dublin 18.

Sir, – For those who are a little confused following all the explanations of what constitutes a “durable relationship’”, take heart. Should a Yes vote prevail, we can be sure that the main “durable relationship” will be between a judge, two barristers, solicitors, a plaintiff, and, of course the State as defendant. That ought to be obvious enough. – Yours, etc,



Co Cavan.

Sir, – The proposed change to Article 41.1.1 that “the State recognises the Family, whether founded on marriage or on other durable relationships” is unfortunate at least in two aspects. First, it presupposes that we can assess what a durable relationship is; second it uses the plural for the word “relationship” and opens the way to recognising all and any kind of “durable” relationship, such as polygamous and polyandrous ones.

Is that what we want? – Yours, etc,



Sir, – The Government’s penchant for holding referendums is curious, to say the least. Since Fine Gael entered Government in 2011, the people have been presented with 11 referendums. It would seem to suggest that the Government has especially high regard for the views of the electorate on constitutional matters.

Not so, I would argue.

First, the electorate should bear in mind that the current Government, and several of its predecessors, have failed to implement the decision of the people in passing the seventh amendment of the Constitution in July 1979 so as to pave the way for the extension of the right to vote in Seanad elections to graduates of institutions of higher education in the State. In spite of a decision of the Supreme Court in 2023, the Government has still not given effect to the decision of the electorate made 45 years ago.

Second, the electorate should not forget that they voted in 2013 to reject the 32nd amendment of the Constitution which proposed the abolition of the Seanad. The Government has been obstinate in its refusal to implement the much-needed wide-ranging reforms of the Seanad that have been laid out in many reports, the most recent proposals and draft legislation having been presented to the Taoiseach in 2018.

This record, and the nature of the referendums now being presented to the people, tells us all that we need to know about the sincerity of this Government in delivering substantive and meaningful reforms. – Yours, etc,



Co Waterford.

Sir, – It’s understandable that an organisation which exists to support family carers would be glad to see their role highlighted in the Constitution (Family Carers Ireland, Letters, February 21st). However, an amendment which also recognised the caring responsibilities of community and society, and of Government on their behalf, would not exclude family members. Yes to making the constitutional definition of the family more inclusive. No to imposing the primary responsibility for care on those families. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 8.