Our Committee published a report in December 2022 entitled ‘Unfinished Democracy’, setting out an action plan on the steps necessary to achieve gender equality in Ireland following the 45 recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly. You can read the full text of our report here.
Constitutional change was identified as a key recommendation, and our Committee proposed specific wording to be put to the people to follow from the recommendations of the Citizens Assembly. These recommendations focus on three changes; first to require the insertion of a specific clause recognising gender equality in our Constitution; secondly to delete the sexist and outdated language about ‘women’ and ‘mothers’ having duties and lives within the home, and to replace that language with a clause recognising the value of care and requiring the State to support care both within and outside the home. Caring is an essential function of our society and is a role that we all play at different points in life.
Thirdly, our Committee recommended the inclusion of an expanded definition of the family, not restricted to the current definition based solely on marriage. An expanded and more inclusive definition would ensure that our Constitution must recognise the diversity of families in Ireland. I have raised these issues for many years, and I am encouraged by our progress towards gender equality. We in Labour are committed to leading a strong referendum campaign to bring Ireland into the 21st century.
This International Women’s Day, we in Labour also raised the government’s failure to provide for necessary basic human rights for women in housing and in childcare. There are now more than 3,000 women registered homeless. The Government has failed women by neglecting to provide for a basic human right – the right to a home.
As I said in the Dail on Wednesday, the decision not to extend the eviction ban beyond the end of this month has left renters across the country facing a cliff edge. It is made worse by the last-minute nature of the decision, with only three weeks to go until it is lifted.
The eviction ban is not a silver bullet to the housing crisis, but if it had been extended this would have provided the Government with an opportunity to catch up on lost time in the provision of housing. Unfortunately, that opportunity was missed. Instead of acting in every way possible to deliver homes, Government Ministers sat on their hands – they did not build social and affordable housing; they did not meaningfully address vacancy and dereliction; they did not strengthen security of tenure and renters’ rights; and they did not rapidly scale up the tenant in situ scheme to bring more homes into state ownership.
Without secure and affordable housing, people in Ireland are deprived access to other basic services such as childcare, education services, healthcare, and other issues too.
I raised the intersection of the childcare and housing crises on Wednesday in Leaders’ Questions and was disappointed by the Taoiseach’s refusal to acknowledge their impact. Click here to read more.
Over coming weeks and months, Labour will continue to point out government failures to deliver on basic services and to ensure the vindication of the rights of women, and of our communities, to an equal and inclusive society. We will continue to propose constructive and progressive changes on housing, care, climate and work as we develop our vision of an Ireland that works for all. Thank you for your continued support for this endeavour.