Carers and the Constitution


Sir, – Many people decided to repeal the Eighth Amendment out of recognition that the Constitution is not the place to insert badly drafted amendments that are ambiguous or which elevate the rights of one section of society over the rights of others.

Article 41.2 has existed since 1937 but has never been interpreted by the courts in over 80 years. Despite its sexist drafting, it only creates a weak obligation on the State to “endeavour” to keep women in the home and it appears to have been an utter failure in that regard.

I now find it surprising that so many commentators are urging that we amend this provision of the Constitution to “acknowledge” the work of carers. What exactly are they seeking to achieve here?

Either carers will be given some additional rights that non-carers cannot have (ie enshrining a new inequality in our Constitution) or (more likely) inserting some flowery language where the only real obligation on the State will be to continue paying carers more lip service. The State and its politicians already are already very good at the latter so I’m not sure why this needs to be reflected in the Constitution.

While the calls for reform are understandable, our Constitution is not the place for ambiguous statements as to how we organise our society.

I do not want to devalue the work of carers but I will not vote for any constitutional amendment which enshrines new inequalities or will be of no practical effect. I am sure many voters feel likewise. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 4.