Sinn Féin and Social Democrats set to campaign for ‘Yes-Yes’ vote in upcoming referendums

Both referendums due to take place on March 8th, International Women’s Day

Sinn Féin and the Social Democrats are set to campaign for a ‘Yes-Yes’ vote in the upcoming referendums on family and care.

The legislation for the referendums passed all stages of the Oireachtas on Tuesday, clearing the way for the campaign to officially start. Both referendums are due to take place on March 8th, International Women’s Day.

The first referendum is aimed at expanding the definition of family to recognise durable relationships as well as marriage in the Constitution. Minister for Equality Roderic O’Gorman has said durable relationships could include one-parent families or cohabiting couples and their children.

The second referendum would see the deletion of the “women in the home” language in the Constitution and the recognition of care within families.


The language on care proposed by the Government does not include recognition of care outside the home in the wider community as some Opposition parties had called for.

Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin said on Tuesday that his party will be campaigning for a ‘Yes’ vote in both referendums.

“Obviously there’s still some issues in terms of the legislation and we’re supporting some of the other Opposition amendments as the legislation passes through the Seanad,” he said.

“But whatever about the final wording, and I know there’s some debate about that, ultimately both with respect to carers and also with the outdated language on women in the home there’s a job of work to be done to address those historic issues,” Mr Ó Broin said.

Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore confirmed that her party will campaign for ‘Yes’ votes.

“Obviously there were some concerns in relation to the wording and whether the wording went far enough but I think overall it is a positive step,” she said. “We will be supporting both those referendums.”

Labour leader Ivana Bacik said her party will decide on its stance for the campaign this week. The party is due to hold a meeting of its executive board on Wednesday evening to decide on a final stance. A senior party source said that it is “highly likely” that Labour will now also call for a ‘Yes-Yes’ vote.

People Before Profit last week confirmed it is supporting ‘Yes’ votes in both referendums.

The debates in the Oireachtas have seen suggestions from some Opposition voices that the referendum on the family could lead to recognition of polygamy as a durable relationship.

Mr O’Gorman has rejected such suggestions and Ms Bacik called them a “red herring”.

She said she intervened in the Dáil debate last week to point this out “because of course polygamy is illegal in Irish law and therefore the whole intervention was misguided in my view”.

“I’m not concerned that that’s going to take over the debate,” she said in response to a question from reporters at Leinster House.

She said she thanked Mr O’Gorman “for clarifying issues that will come up and are serious, in particular the definition of a durable relationship and whether a family defined based on a durable relationship was confined to a couple which is what it is in European law.

“The Minister very clearly outlined why the definition in the Constitutional proposal he’s making, that definition goes beyond couples and also applies vertically – in other words between parents and children ... it was a really helpful debate.”

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Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times