Women’s groups opposed to NWCI stance call for No votes in referendums

Proposed changes would not help women and Government has not made ‘cogent argument’, Silenced Protest group says

A group claiming to represent the “silent majority” of women in Ireland has called for No votes in the forthcoming referendums.

About 30 members of the Silenced Protest group staged a flash demonstration outside the Mansion House in Dublin on Thursday where the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) launched its Yes campaign for both referendums.

Among the organisations represented at the protest were the Irish Women’s Lobby, Women’s Space Ireland and The Countess.

These organisations have opposed the NWCI’s stance in relation to transgender issues, though they stressed this was not their motivation for calling for No votes in the forthcoming referendums.


Silenced Protest said a Yes vote was based on a “lie” that article 41.2 states that a “woman’s place in the home”.

“The Constitution states that the State will strive to prevent women having to work outside the home if she doesn’t want to do that,” Irish Women’s Lobby founder Helen Duignan said.

“What unites us all is to maintain a woman or a man’s right to choose whether or not to work outside the home. What they should be putting into the Constitution is the word ‘parents’ that they will not be forced out of the home due to economic necessity. That’s been missed.”

Ms Duignan said they were also calling for a No vote in the second referendum, on care, which intends to add the words “or other durable relationships” into the Constitution in relation to the family, based on marriage being the foundation of the social order in society.

She suggested it was best to vote No as even the Government couldn’t define what the words “durable relationships” mean.

Another protester, Estelle Birdy, said the Government had given “no cogent argument” for the removal of the words ‘women’ or ‘mothers’ from the Constitution.

“We also agree that the language of 41.2 is old-fashioned and could be updated but that is not the proposal. Furthermore, we would question the ethical basis for spending €20 million of public funds on updating somewhat archaic language that does not in any way materially detrimentally affect women, at a time when we have over 13,000 people homeless, many of them women and children,” she said.

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Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times