New language around woman's place in home could have 'unpredictable legal consequences'

The Justice Minister has said putting new language into the Constitution instead of reference to a woman's place in the home would have legal consequences, depending on the courts.

The comments suggest the government have decided on a simple deletion in the planned autumn referendum in order to avoid any financial implications or cases being taken against the state.

Writing in today's Irish Examiner, Charlie Flanagan says the government did consider recommendations that Article 41.2 should be replaced with a clause about carers. He adds:

"We also sought extensive legal advice and our ultimate conclusion was that inserting new language into the Constitution could have unpredictable legal consequences, dependent on interpretation by the Courts."

The Cabinet last week agreed the referendum will be held on October 26, alongside a vote on the offence of blasphemy.

Mr Flanagan says the reference to women does not “belong in a modern constitution”. Recognition and policy around the massive role people, mainly women, play in support also “belongs in legislation, not in the constitution”.

We have no right to assume that a woman’s place is in the home, or anywhere else, unless she chooses it to be.

But Justice sources confirmed the advice to the minister for a repeal simpliciter of the article did relate in part to concern about the state facing financial actions or cases.

But the source added:

"It's not about money, it is about policy."

This was despite a recommendation by the Constitutional Convention to make the clause gender neutral or to include a reference to carers “in the home”.

Mr Flanagan also outlines how he would like to see the Citizens Assembly explore the role of carers for policy changes.

The constitution is not the place to solve big, complex policy challenges. And it is not the place for putting forward a narrow view of a woman’s place. A woman’s place, like a man’s one, must be where she chooses it to be.

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