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The Irish reject reform on the place of women and the family

Photo: Paul Faith Agence France-Presse The referendum generated little enthusiasm, with participation not exceeding 50% in most of the 39 constituencies, according to estimates published by Irish media.

Peter Murphy – Agence France-Presse in Dublin

1:25 p.m.

  • Europe

The Irish have rejected the reform aimed at changing the references to women and the family in their country's Constitution, drawn up in 1937 and heir to the long and strong influence of the Catholic Church on life public and private.

“I think it is clear at this stage that the amendments […] have been rejected,” Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, whose center-right government had proposed the reform, announced to the press.

“It was our responsibility to convince a majority of people to vote ‘yes’ and we failed to do so,” he added, while the results of the referendum, including the wording had been highly criticized, have not yet been officially published.

A symbolic blow for women, and contrary to a political class whose main parties had defended the “yes”, Irish voters thus disapproved a modification of the Constitution which notably intended to broaden the concept of family beyond the notion of marriage, and erase the priority role of mothers in ensuring “domestic duties” in a home.

But this referendum aroused little enthusiasm, with participation not exceeding 50% in most of the 39 constituencies, according to estimates published by the Irish media.

Even before the Prime Minister spoke, several other members of the government had already conceded defeat, the Minister for Equality, Roderic O'Gorman, quoted by the< i> Irish Times, expressing disappointment and regret that people “did not see the urgency for change” to the Constitution.

“Sad day”

Before the vote, Leo Varadkar estimated that a “no” victory would take the country “a step backwards”. “It would send a message to many people that they are not a family under our Constitution,” he said, while maintaining “the very old-fashioned language about women in the home, and the duties of mothers in the home.” within the home.”

Ireland, a European Union country with 5.3 million inhabitants, legalized marriage for same-sex couples in 2015, and abortion in 2018.

The government was counting on this double referendum, organized on March 8, International Women's Rights Day and at a time when France was ratifying the inclusion of the right to abortion in its own Constitution, to erase a little more the imprint left by the Catholic Church in the country's institutions.

“It’s a sad day for those who have been campaigning for decades to get rid of these sexist words” in the Constitution, Labor Senator Marie Sherlock responded on RTE radio.

“The people have spoken. He has made his voice heard and must be heard. The government's proposals have failed,” said the leader of Sinn Fein, Mary Lou McDonald, a “yes” supporter, accusing the executive of not having sufficiently consulted upstream on the proposed reform.< /p>

“It’s a significant victory for the people against the political establishment,” Peadar Toibin, leader of the conservative Aontu party, who had supported the “no” vote, told AFP. ”.

“The government had defended these amendments as if they were progressive […] but in reality they were not,” particularly with regard to their repercussions on the care owed to the most fragile in society, he said. he added.

Vague formulations

Until a few days before the election, the polls predicted a fairly easy “yes” victory, but the latest polls had revealed growing uncertainty.

Voters had to decide on two questions. The first concerned the definition of family, proposing to expand it beyond that based on marriage, to also include “lasting relationships” such as cohabiting couples and their children.

The second question proposed deleting a reference deemed outdated on the role of women in the home, which suggests that they have a duty to take care of other people under their roof.

A new, broader formula would have made all members of a family responsible for taking care of each other.

Opponents of these changes had criticized vague wording, particularly on the second question, and the disappearance of the words “woman” and “mother” from the text.

Activists for the rights of disabled people also accused the text of disempowering the State in terms of taking care of these people.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116