Carers and the Constitution

 

Sir, – Ian O’Mara’s letter (“Carers and the Constitution ”, Letters, (July 14th) argues against amending Article 41.2 of the Constitution in favour of deleting it. He opposes giving “carers . . . additional rights that non-carers cannot have” as this would lead to inequality.

While Mr O’Mara does not wish to “devalue the work of carers”, perhaps he should consider the disadvantage that those who do unpaid caring work in the home face.

I have worked in many jobs, from waiting tables to lecturing in a university, but the most skilled, demanding and exhausting work I have ever done has been to care for my young child. Yet this is not recognised and should be. It can also be the most rewarding and satisfying work – as my son has grown, I have experienced the joy of seeing him develop and his dependence on me lessen. Many who care for sick and elderly people may instead see the needs of those they care for increase as time goes on.

Unpaid caring work often makes doing paid work impossible, so carers are financially disadvantaged and, if paid, invariably low paid. The one parent family payment and universal child benefit could be threatened by the deletion of Article 41.2. Surely this essential work should be supported by the State; expanding such support to all carers would not create inequality but reduce it.

The further argument that an amendment “will be of no practical effect” is certainly of concern and should be addressed to ensure financial protection for mothers and other carers (regardless of gender) whose uniquely vital work makes them uniquely vulnerable.

Following the success of the referendums on marriage equality and the repeal of the Eighth Amendment, the Government should follow the advice of the Constitutional Convention which voted by a majority of 88 per cent to retain and amend Article 41.2. – Yours, etc,

DEIRDRE McHUGH,

Galway.