Flanagan endorses straight repeal of ‘woman’s place in the home’ in constitution

Charlie Flanagan

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has said he would prefer to remove article 41.2 from the Constitution rather than replace it with new wording, the Irish Examiner reports.

In an interview with the newspaper, he said he did not want a repeat of the “abortion debacle”.

Article 41.2 of the Constitution states that the State shall “ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home”.

Ahead of the referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment, the Government debated whether article 40.3.3 should be deleted entirely or replaced with new wording.

In January, the Government eventually decided to replace the clause with new wording based on advice from the Attorney General.

However, Mr Flanagan has suggested the Government will take the “repeal simpliciter” approach to the referendum planned for October.

He said: “Everyone agrees that article 41.2 is not fit for purpose , is outdated, it needs to be deleted. I am very concerned, as justice minister, the unintended consequences of replacing deleted words with another form of wording.

“We have only got to look back to the 1980s and the abortion debacle since then. I don’t want any unintended consequences. My preference is for straightforward deletion.”

The minister added: “I accept that there is a school of thought that would like to see a form of guarantee or acknowledgement of the work of carers. It is a separate and distinct issue. It is one for the Citizens Assembly. I would like to see that Citizens Assembly up and running in parallel with the referendum campaign.

“Our Constitution, as a body of law, is quite a complex document. We have seen a number of incidents where wording was inserted in the Constitution which had consequences which were different to those that were intended.

“We saw, for example, the Eighth Amendment had the affect of dividing Irish society for over 30 years. Any wording that is inserted in the Constitution needs to be legally robust.

“In the case of 41.2, I’m not convinced that there is an appropriate level of wording that is necessary to go into the Constitution.”