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Ireland decides on constitutional changes. Proponents of change want it

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Amend the constitution or leave anachronistic provisions on the role of women and the definition of family – Ireland will decide this in Friday’s referendum. For residents, this is not such an obvious choice, because it is not only about words.

Irish senator Tom Conan knows everything about caring for a disabled child. It was precisely because people like his son Owen could not count on sufficient state protection that he decided to enter politics. – We advised the government on how to get rid of gendered language about women in the home and simply replace it with the word parent or guardian, but the government ignored it and came up with chatter about families having to fend for themselves now, says the senator.

The first change to the constitution in Ireland is controversial because it was supposed to remove provisions suggesting that a woman’s place is at home, even at the expense of her professional life, but the text was changed so that everyone is talking about the state trying to avoid financial responsibility for the sick and elders.

In particular, the state recognizes that through her life at home, a woman provides you with support, without which the common good cannot be achieved. Therefore, the State tries to provide such conditions that mothers are not forced by economic need to take up work, neglecting their household duties.

The state recognizes that the provision of mutual care by family members on the basis of existing bonds between them provides society with the support without which the common good cannot be achieved, and should strive to support such services.

The second change is intended to expand the definition of family by adding that – apart from marriage – it may be based on any lasting relationship.

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– I asked ministers when a lasting relationship begins. Nobody knew and even the electoral commission itself said that proof of such a relationship could be a card with Christmas wishes from the alleged partner or an invitation to a wedding. This is pure madness, says the leader of the Irish party Aontú Peadar Tóibín.

– The government argues that it only wants to remove “sexist” language and imagines that we will magically transform from Catholic Ireland into some Scandinavian Nirvana. For me, this is an offensive, narcissistic attack on the foundations of our law – comments Laoise de Brún BL, lawyer, founder of The Countess organization.

Opponents of the changes argue that the constitution’s recognition of women and mothers, whose work is estimated to be worth EUR 54,590 a year, should be left in the constitution.

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The result of the referendum is uncertain

This referendum is not about money or ennoblements – supporters of voting for changes are responsible.

– This will mean that we will expand the definition of family, also to include single parents and unmarried couples. We will also get rid of outdated, sexist language about women and recognize that men’s care is as important as women’s, says Karen Kiernan, president of the One Family Organization.

The Constitution of Ireland was written in 1937 under the supervision and strong influence of the Catholic Church. Over the past 10 years, Ireland has undergone a series of seismic social changes triggered by referendums, legalizing same-sex marriage and abortion.

– After the pedophilia scandals, the role of the Church began to decline. Some people lost trust in clergy. The Church usually votes “no” in referendums. Now people can vote “no” – not out of sympathy for the Church, but because the ideas were not progressive enough – explains Prof. Jane Suner, a political scientist at Dublin City University.

The quarrel over words makes the referendum result uncertain. Voting in the referendum will last until 11 p.m. Polish time. Turnout is expected to be low, but whatever voters decide will come into force.

Main photo source: PAP/EPA/MOSTAFA DARWISH

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