Wording for long-awaited women’s role in the home referendum delayed further

Ministers to be briefed on new scientific research centres and special EU status for ‘Irish Grass Fed Beef’

It is likely to be another week before the wording for the referendum to delete references in the Constitution to women’s role in the home will go to Government for approval.

There have been months of deliberations on the question to be put to the people amid some anxiety among senior politicians that a referendum campaign could turn into a divisive debate on family, gender and gender roles.

Despite some indications over the last week that the wording for the referendum would be considered at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, it is now expected to go before Minsters next week.

The original intention of holding the referendum this month was abandoned some time ago and March 8th – International Women’s Day – is now likely to be the polling day.


The plans are also set to include inserting recognition of family carers and also an aspiration that the State should “strive to support the provision of care” in the home into the Constitution.

Holding the referendum will require an act to be passed by the Oireachtas, proposing to amend the Constitution with the agreed wording, before a public information campaign about the changes is undertaken by the new Electoral Commission.

Separately, two new scientific research centres bringing together teams from Ireland, Northern Ireland and Britain are to be created and funded to the tune of €70 million.

The plans come as part of Tuesday’s British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference meeting of Irish and UK ministers in Dublin.

It is understood that Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris is to brief Cabinet colleagues on the project before an official announcement along with UK secretary of state for science Michelle Donelan.

One centre for Climate, Biodiversity and Water will involve 64 researchers across 14 organisations and will be led by a team comprised of academics from Trinity College Dublin, Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Reading.

The other centre will carry out research on sustainable and resilient food systems and it will involve 68 researchers across 15 organisations. Its leadership team will come from University College Dublin, Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Sheffield.

The Co-Centres Programme is to be funded over six years up to 2030, with up to €40 million from Science Foundation Ireland, up to £17 million (€19.6 million) from Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environent and Rural Affairs and up to £12 million (€13.8 million) through UK Research and Innovation.

Meanwhile, Tánaiste Micheál Martin is to seek Cabinet approval for the continued participation by the Defence Forces in two overseas missions – Operation ALTHEA in Bosnia and Herzegovina which will involve up to five members – and the UN Mine Action Service in Entebbe, Uganda where one officer is currently deployed.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue is to ask colleagues to note that both “Irish Grass Fed Beef” and “Achill Island Sea Salt” are due to be registered as an all-island Protected Geographical Indication under European Union Quality Schemes.

These schemes aim to protect the names of specific products to promote their unique characteristics, linked to their geographical origin as well as traditional know-how.

Waterford Blaa bread rolls and Irish whiskey are among products previously awarded special status by the EU.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times