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'Woman's place has to be put to the vote'

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, although members recommended more Government action in the area.

Tom Arnold, chairman of the convention, described the report as the next step in 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 that 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, which specifies the role of women in the home.

Members believe it should be gender-neutral to include other carers in the home, and beyond the home.

Changes

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

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

The Government has 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, it must 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 18-19, when members will look at the way politicians are elected.

hnews@herald.ie


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