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National Women’s Council is deeply disappointed by no vote in family and care referendums

Published: Saturday, March 09, 2024

The National Women’s Council (NWC)  today expressed its deep disappointment about the clear no vote in both the family and care referendums. While the reasons for this are complex, the result is a clear wakeup call that we cannot be complacent about equality and women’s rights.

Orla O’Connor, Director of the National Women’s Council (NWC),

“The people have spoken and NWC will now reflect on the public vote and the referendum campaigns with our members. We would like to sincerely thank our staff, Board and the many supporters who fought hard for a different outcome today.”

She said,

“The no vote in the family referendums means the families of over 40% of children born outside of marriage and the over 1 million people who are part of unmarried families are still not recognised in our Constitution.”

The no vote in the care referendum means that Article 41.2 remains in the constitution which continues to assign women’s primary place and indeed women’s life within the home. This is a reactionary message to send to young women and girls in 2024 and it fails to reflect the reality of women’s lives today and also to recognise the important role that men play in relation to care.” 

She continued,

“There are some factors that clearly contributed to today’s outcome. The Government’s poor wording, combined with a lack of leadership from political parties resulted in confusion amongst voters and a lack of mobilisation on the ground.

We campaigned for a yes vote because we believed and continue to believe that Irish people value care and this was reflected in the earlier opinion polls. We also believe there was an element of the no vote today for which the wording did not go far enough and as the campaign evolved it was clear the public wanted more.

NWC will now continue to work with other civil society organisations to campaign energetically for public care services, for a public childcare model and better paid family leave, a universal Pension that would create pension justice for women in older age, guaranteed access to homecare supports and personal assistance for disabled people and the rights of people to live independently.”