Statement on the Upcoming Referendums On 8th March 2024

The government has initiated two constitutional referendums for this year’s International Working Womens’ Day on the 8th of March: one relates to the reference to women’s duties in the home and to marriage as the foundation of society. The other deals with the issue of care. The Irish Communist Party would like to outline a number of issues we feel are worth commenting on: Both proposals are riddled with ambiguities and contradictions, but we nevertheless encourage voters to vote YES to the extension of the family, despite the lack of clarity in the proposal, but NO to the new reference to carers which actually imposes the burden of care solely on the family, avoiding any reference to the state’s responsibility.

So we encourage a YES/NO vote. Yes to a new view of the family; no to relieving the state of the duty of care. There has been no real consultative process in communities or among people and the entire framing comes across haphazard, ill thought out and rushed. A cynic may suggest that FF-FG have launched these referenda to deflect from their collapsing vote. The constitution is designed in the American constitutionalist way, i.e it is a document that is there to preserve and guarantee the liberties of individuals against the excesses of the state.

In reality the only actual right the constitution provides for is the provision of free primary education. As any parent knows it’s not even actually free as the cost of uniforms and books is in the hundreds. The constitution allows for wide judicial interpretation, for example there is no clear definition of “durable relationship”, which suggests that those litigating will have to find out what that means through judicial interpretation and not primary law coming from Leinster house – in a common law system this is inherently dangerous as it will have widespread consequences on the basis of precedent.

There appears to be no argument from the government parties other than a liberal attempt at tweaking the constitution to keep up progressive appearances. The wording of the constitution is archaic, and is based on women doing 99% of the child rearing and housekeeping – we acknowledge that despite changes in culture and attitudes, this unpaid labour in the home is still predominantly carried out by women.

What kind of constitutional changes does the Irish Communist Party propose for the improvement of this country? Well we suggest some of the items below that we believe would fundamentally and radically alter the lives of the people of Ireland. The long delayed referendum on the right to public housing would create an obligation on the state to take a proactive approach in the provision of housing to every single person who lives in Ireland.

The referendum on the public ownership and benefit of water and water service would ensure that generations of people in Ireland would not suffer the privatisation of water. A referendum on the usage and exploitation of natural resources is needed, place them exclusively at the disposal and interest of the public good. Referendums on the provision of universally accessible childcare, access to a well funded health service, to decent work and a safe environment, to neutrality and to peace – we believe these are the sort of constitutional changes that would materially improve the lives of the people of Ireland.

It is entirely within our ability as a people to come together and look towards a future where the role of the state is not to enrich the friends of the ruling parties or distribute jobs to the children of various millionaires; but to instead invest Ireland’s resources into the development of the people through the appropriate funding and management of key infrastructure and services. Our Party continues to argue that for Ireland to change, it is not sufficient to tweak a socially conservative constitution written under a Catholic theocracy, but to re-double our efforts in working towards the establishing a socialist, united and independent republic backed by a constitutional and legal system
reflecting this.

In the interim and short term period, we support a YES vote for the amendment in relation to broadening the definition of family, but a NO vote to the second amendment regarding care as it breaks with the proposals of the citizens assembly and would not bring any discernible policy improvements.

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