Report finds article in Constitution relating to woman's place in the home has 'no place' in 21st century Ireland

The Government has been presented with two options to remove the “sexist and paternalistic” Article 41.2 of the Constitution which relates to woman's place in the home.

The Oireachtas Justice Committee report has concluded the article as currently worded has “no place in the Ireland of the 21st century”.

“There is no reasonable argument or justification for retaining the current provision," the report said.

"The question, therefore, is not whether to delete the Article, but whether it should be deleted simpliciter or replaced with an alternative wording that is more appropriate to the present day and that reflects the value and recognition we wish to place on the role of carers in our society, not just in the traditional family home setting, but more broadly,” the report stated.

The committee could not reach a consensus on a recommendation so has put forward two alternative options for the Government to consider.

Some members favour replacing Article 41.2 with an alternative provision containing more appropriate, gender-neutral language, which acknowledges the support that home and family life gives to society, and the importance of the role played by carers, whilst ensuring that the Government and the Oireachtas remain responsible for the allocation of public funds.

They recommend replacing the existing Article 41.2 with the following:

The State recognises that home and family life gives to society a support without which the common good cannot be achieved. The State shall endeavour to support persons caring for others within the home as may be determined by law.

Other members support the view expressed by a number of stakeholders in the course of the hearings that these complex issues require time for public engagement, and a conversation that considers a range of constitutional, legislative and policy options in this area.

They therefore call upon the Government, before proceeding with a referendum in 2019, to establish and engage in a public consultation process – an obvious possible model being how the Citizens’ Assembly addressed the issues around the eighth amendment.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission welcomed the publication of Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice and Equality report.

“It is clear from its recommendations that there is cross-party support within the Committee for an amendment which recognises the public good provided by care work within and by families in Ireland," Emily Logan, chief commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, added.

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