In February, the Ard Comhairle of the Workers’ Party debated the merits of the proposed constitutional amendments on care and the family. While arguments were made both for and against the amendments, it was ultimately agreed by all members of the Ard Comhairle that the proposed changes will result in no material harm or benefit to workers, families, or those providing care. 

Accordingly, the party has chosen not to endorse any position on these referenda.

The Workers’ Party is committed to both gender equality and to economic and social support for parents and carers. However, as socialists, we should not indulge in shallow idealism regarding the constitution, or be taken in by symbolic gesture politics. The current provisions of Article 41 are offensive in their language, and reflect a deeply reactionary social attitude inspired by catholic fundamentalism. Nonetheless, they have been repeatedly determined by the courts to have no legal effect. They restrict neither the ability of the state to recognise non-traditional families, nor the right of women to work, nor do they prevent the state from providing support to parents and carers. The failure of the state to provide adequate childcare services, support for single parents, or support for those caring for the elderly or disabled, is entirely a matter of choice. It is a decision made and reinforced by every government which has chosen not to legislate on these matters. Equally, the proposed amendments will not endow citizens with any additional rights or entitlements which could not already be introduced by the government if it chose to do so. In fact, the wording of the amendments seems specifically designed to remove even the implication of such entitlements. As such, these amendments can reasonably be seen, not as a necessary pre-requisite for material change, but as distraction from the state’s refusal to make those changes rightly demanded by its people 

We encourage members and supporters of the party to vote on these amendments following their own judgement. For those seeking further guidance on this choice we include a summary of the arguments presented to the Ard Comhairle, which can be read by clicking here. However we should not vote in any expectation that the result will make any difference to the material conditions of working people, whether they work within or outside the home. Real material change which will not be achieved by inserting a magic formula into the constitution, but by winning economic power for the working class.