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Commitment by state in proposed Care amendment should not be underestimated – Ward

2nd March 2024 - Senator Barry Ward

The Care amendment’s use of ‘shall strive’ in the March 8th referendums signals a deep commitment to family care, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

Senator Barry Ward, the Fine Gael Seanad Spokesperson on Justice, said: “As we approach the March 8th vote, it’s crucial that we get the facts straight. The upcoming Care amendment highlights an earnest commitment to take serious, ongoing steps towards the improvement of family care– whether undertaken by a man or a woman.

“Ms. Justice Marie Baker, Chair of Coimisiún Toghcháin, has said that the Commission has taken the view that ‘strive’ is a somewhat stronger word than ‘endeavour’, in its commitment to family carers. It does not at all take away from the very clear intention by the State.

“The Irish ‘dréim,’ meaning ‘strive,’ and taking precedence in the text, similarly illustrates the intention of the proposed amendment. ‘Strive’ is mentioned only once elsewhere in the Constitution, within Article 45.1, advocating for the welfare of all people. The corresponding term in Irish, ‘a dhícheall,’ does not have the same connotations of ‘dréim’.

“‘Dréim’ denotes not just an attempt but a consistent and enduring commitment– it is not simply ‘to try’; it is ‘to progressively realise’. The use of ‘shall’ in ‘shall strive to support such care’ gives this commitment further weight, as the strongest legal direction that can be taken.

“Minister O’Gorman has pointed out that supporting family care includes funding essential services like respite and home-care services– the proposed amendment reflects that strong commitment by the State to supporting a robust care infrastructure.

“Such services are crucial for the functionality of family care. By explicitly requiring the State’s support, we acknowledge the need for a robust professional care system that backs families.

“This approach similarly grants the Oireachtas, our elected legislature, the flexibility to allocate resources according to these policy goals. What that could mean in litigation is that the State might have to justify were it not to make proper provision for care and financial or other support or recognition for care.

“On March 8th, a vote for ‘Yes’ in for family carers isn’t just a mark on a ballot—it’s a stand for justice, a nod to progress, and a meaningful commitment to families across Ireland. This amendment is our opportunity to enshrine in our Constitution the value and support family care deserves. I strongly advocate for a ‘Yes’ vote on both counts on March 8th,” concluded Senator Barry Ward.

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