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Constitutional Convention panel recommends explicit provision on gender equality

THE Constitution should be amended to include an explicit provision on gender equality, a panel has said.

In its second report, the Convention on the Constitution also called for the role of women in the home to be altered and made gender-neutral to include other carers.

However, a constitutional provision to enhance women's participation in public life and in politics was narrowly defeated but members recommended more government action in the area.

Tom Arnold, chairman of the convention, described the report as the next step in the process of assessing the constitution.

"This report contains the recommendations of the convention members to amend the current role of women in the Constitution to reflect the great societal changes which have taken place since the document was written," he said.

"It calls for recognition of gender balance and for equal opportunity."

The convention's report recommends altering article 41.2 of the Constitution which specifies the role of women in the home. Members believed it should be gender-neutral to include other carers in the home, and beyond the home.

The February meeting also recommended that the State should offer a 'reasonable level of support' to ensure that carers 'shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour'.

In addition, a majority of the convention members recommended that the Constitution should be amended to include an explicit provision on gender equality.

The convention's report was today laid in the library of the Houses of the Oireachtas, giving the Government four months to respond to the call for reform.

A full Dail debate must be held and, if the Government agrees with any of the recommendations, then it must also include a timeline for a referendum.

Mr Arnold said: "The purpose of the Convention is to consider certain aspects of our constitution, to assess whether it is fully equipped for the 21st Century and to make recommendations to the Oireachtas on future amendments to be put to the people by way of referendum."

The next meeting of the Convention on the Constitution will take place on May 18 and 19, when members will look at the Dail electoral system and the way politicians are elected.

Online Editors