Role of women in Constitution


Sir, – The Taoiseach, in the context of article 41.2 of our Constitution, is reported as saying that this article is sexist, backward, insulting and outdated (“Varadkar describes parts of the Constitution as ‘sexist and backward’”, News, September 10th).

My wife is one of those women who has chosen to stay at home to rear her family of eight children, and she would disagree with Mr Varadkar. She is not insulted by this article of the Constitution. She would not have had the option to stay at home were it not for article 41.2 of our Constitution, which forbids the Government from pressuring women to work outside of the home.

In other words, this article provides the only constitutional protection that women who would rather stay at home legally have.

This article protects our tax regime which allows any woman to transfer her tax credits to her husband’s, should she wish to stay at home.

If this article is deleted, women’s place would not be “where they want to be”, as Mr Varadkar claims, rather women’s place would be where the Government wants them to be, through the subtle pressures of tax legislation, including the removal of the current tax policy which allows spouses to donate their tax credits to one another, in favour of the euphemistic policy of “tax individualisation”. – Yours, etc,



Co Mayo.

Sir, – According to the Taoiseach, a clause prioritising a woman’s domestic role is “sexist and outdated” and should be removed.

Is the Taoiseach ignorant of article 41.2, which reads, “Mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home”? This provision is not saying that a woman’s place is in the home, but that she should not be forced out of the home through economic necessity.

Along with the Taoiseach, the Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, in his eagerness to get rid of article 41, also chooses to ignore the State’s obligation under this article.

Since the enactment of the Constitution in 1937 successive governments have chosen to ignore this provision and have failed miserably in their obligation to mothers and their children.

We need to think very carefully about what precisely this Government is trying to achieve in its efforts to remove what it believes to be “outdated”. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 24.