Law Society calls for Yes-Yes vote in family and care referendums

Yes vote will ‘better reflect diversity of family life’ and ‘acknowledge role of carers’, says solicitors’ representative body

The Law Society of Ireland is advocating a Yes vote in next week’s “family” and “care” referendums.

A Yes vote in both referendums “will provide greater recognition for all families, better reflect the diversity of family life, and acknowledge the role of carers”, the council of the Society, the solicitors’ representatives body, said.

The family amendment proposes to expand the constitutional protection of the family to not just include the family founded on marriage but also on “other durable relationships”.

The care amendment proposes to delete article 41.2, which provides the State shall “endeavour” to support a woman’s work in the home, and replace it with a new article 42B providing the State shall “strive” to support care provided by family members to one another.


In a statement issued this weekend, Law Society president Barry MacCarthy said the society is advocating for a Yes vote in both referendums.


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The Constitution is the nation’s “foundational legal document that should reflect the values of modern Irish society”, he said.

“Any language that is, by its nature, discriminatory does not fit these values and should be removed. If passed, the amendments will recognise the diversity of family life and the role of carers in a manner that more reflects who we are as a nation today.”

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The society considers the current definition of family in the Constitution “does not match the reality of families in Ireland today”, he said.

The family amendment “will give recognition in our Constitution to the diverse range of family units, including one-parent families, cohabiting couples, and families where relatives are helping to bring up children while continuing to recognise marriage”.

At a time when more than 40 per cent of children in Ireland are born outside of marriage or civil partnerships, “the value of this amendment is clear”, Mr McCarthy said.

The amendment “legally recognises the value of all genders in the family, promotes equal treatment of all families, and is more inclusive”.

While the definition of a “durable relationship” is not defined, it will be a matter for elected representatives to legislate and the courts to interpret, in line with the rule of law in the State, he said.

Concerning the care amendment, Mr McCarthy said the text of article 41.2 is “discriminatory, does not reflect the role of women in Irish society correctly and is out of touch”.

The insertion of the care amendment will remove any stereotyping of one specific gender as the carer as opposed to another, he said.

“The care amendment will also enshrine a recognition of all carers in the Constitution, and so places a greater value on those carers as well as an onus on government to provide them with greater support.”

“Crucially, both amendments reflect significant societal changes in Ireland since the original text of the Constitution was drafted and approved in 1937,” Mr McCarthy said.

While legal interpretation of the amendments “may require further development”, Ireland has “robust” legislative and legal institutions to deal with those issues, he said.

The society believes “discriminatory language” has no place in the nation’s foundational legal document, which should reflect the values of modern Irish society, he said.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times