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Referendum 2024: Everything you need to know

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This Friday will see two referendums take place in Ireland, the ‘family’ referendum and the ‘care’ referendum. These referendums aim to change the language used in the Constitution concerning these two subjects. Here’s everything you need to know.

The ‘family’ referendum

Article 41.1.1 currently recognises the family as, “the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law.” This is elaborated on in Article 41.3.1, where the State “pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of Marriage, on which the Family is founded, and to protect it against attack.”

These provisions currently give strong legal rights to the institution of the family, however these legal rights only extend to families that are based on marriage. The proposed amendment in the ‘family’ referendum would outline the family as “founded on marriage or other durable relationships”. It would keep the same pledge stated in Article 41.3.1 but would remove the section that says, “on which the Family is founded”.


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The ‘care’ referendum

The second referendum concerns Article 41.2, which currently emphasises the woman’s ‘life within the home’ as integral to the common good of society.

The full wording of the provision is currently, “the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved” and says the State shall “endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home”.

The proposed amendment would remove this article and instead insert an article recognising the important role of carers in society. The new provision would read as, “The State recognises that the provision of care, by members of a family to one another by reason of the bonds that exist among them, gives to Society a support without which the common good cannot be achieved, and shall strive to support such provision.”

The two referendums will potentially be the 39th and 40th Amendments to the Constitution.

What do these changes mean?

The family referendum aims to officially expand the legal concept of the family to include those that are based on ” durable relationships” in addition to those based on marriage. The institution of marriage will continue to be one that the State will guard with special care as that section of the article will remain.

The care referendum is intended to replace an article that many see as outdated with one that recognises the importance of the care provided by family members to each other and its role in maintaining the good of Irish society. The proposed provision says the State will ‘strive to support’ the provision of this care.


Are you voting YES or NO – Where do you stand? Let’s talk! 💬 On March 8th Ireland votes on two referendums, each  proposing BIG CHANGES to the Irish Constitution 🗳️ –  Family and relationships 👨‍👩‍👧 – Women’s role in the home🏠 Eilís, our Digital Marketing and Communications Executive gives you a rough guide on what YOU need to know before hitting the polls! 📢 #referendumireland2024 #referendum8thmarch #referendumireland #voteyesyes #votenono #referendumexplained #referendumirelandwomen #womeninthehome

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Who is in favour of a Yes-Yes vote?

The National Women’s Council of Ireland is campaigning for a Yes-Yes vote. Government parties who support a Yes-Yes vote are Sinn Féin, Social Democrats, Labour and People Before Profit.

Who is in favour of a No-No vote?

Some groups such as the Iona Institute and Family Solidarity are campaigning for a No-No vote, fearing that a change to the Constitution could remove constitutional protection for mothers.

A group of lawyers called ‘Lawyers for No‘ is advocating a No-No vote as they claim the wording of the new provisions is inadequate and could lead to legal uncertainties.

Can You vote Yes-No?

Yes, you can vote Yes-No if you wish. A campaign group named ‘Equality Not Care‘ are advocating a Yes-No vote due to the wording of the proposed provision. This group is concerned that a new amendment on care would only recognise care in the family and restrict the rights of others who receive and provide care.

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