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Ireland to vote on whether a woman’s place is in the home

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Irish abortion
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People in Dublin celebrate the result of the Irish abortion referendum last month

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Irish abortion

Campaigners demand referendum over controversial clause in Irish Constitution

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Thursday, June 14, 2018 - 3:13pm

The Republic of Ireland is expected to hold a referendum on whether to remove a controversial clause in its Constitution that makes reference to a “woman’s place in the home”.

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Calls for the vote were renewed this week following the announcement that Ireland will hold a referendum on whether to change its laws against blasphemy.

Feminists have been campaigning for years for a change to Article 41.2 of the Irish Constitution (Bunreacht na hÉireann). Added to the document in 1937, it reads: “In particular, 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. 

“The State shall, therefore, 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 abolition of the controversial clause has been considered on multiple occasions, including during the country’s Constitutional Convention in 2013.

The Irish Times describes the clause as a “paternalistic throwback to 1930s Ireland” and says that “while the sentiment may have been honourable, the language used is (in modern times in any case) insulting”.

Josepha Madigan, the Irish culture minister, said: “Our Constitution should not narrowly define our roles in society. I would like to see this anachronistic article consigned to history. Modern Irish women and modern Irish families deserve more than the archaic notions of the 1937 Constitution.”

According to the BBC, the Irish government is expected to approve a public vote on the issue. Campaigners’ hopes have been raised by lawmakers’ decision to allow a referendum on changing a law against blasphemy written into the Constitution, under which “the publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law”.

In 2009, a new law made blasphemy punishable by a fine of up to €25,000 (£22,000).

The blasphemy vote will be held on the same day as the presidential election, which is likely to take place in October.

Last month the Republic voted to reform and modernise its laws regarding abortion, fuelling calls for a similar referendum in Northern Ireland.

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