Minister for Special Education Josepha Madigan has called for the establishment of a Special Oireachtas Committee to examine the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality, in particular the three recommendations regarding constitutional reform.
Minister Madigan was speaking following last night’s meeting of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party, where Fine Gael TDs, Senators and MEPs unanimously backed her motion calling for the establishment of a proposed new Committee.
Minister Madigan said, “Our Constitution is our fundamental law and a statement of our values as a society. In recent years, the Irish electorate has helped to bring the Constitution up to date with our changing values, however, to this day there still remains a number of outdated and legally meaningless provisions within its pages.
“The Programme for Government is clear in its aim of supporting the principle of equality and ensuring that every citizen can achieve their full potential. It also clearly states that the Government will respond to each recommendation of the Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality.
“The Final Report of the Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality has now been formally submitted to the Oireachtas for its full consideration. Therefore, swift action needs to be taken by the Government to prove that it stands by its commitment in the Programme for Government.
“For many decades, Irish women have often been left behind in our society. This Report provides a comprehensive pathway to ensuring that this never happens again. I want to pay tribute to all involved in the Citizens’ Assembly and its Chair, Catherine Day, for their extraordinary work.
“I will be writing to the Taoiseach, Tánaiste, and Ministers Ryan, Humphreys and O’Gorman stressing the importance of this Report – and asking them to consider preparing a Resolution to formally establish a Special Oireachtas Committee to scrutinise the Assembly’s proposals in great detail – and in particular the three proposals which would significantly reform our Constitution:
- Insert a new clause into Article 40 to refer explicitly to gender equality and non-discrimination;
- Delete and replace the text of Article 41.2 (Women in the Home) with language that is not gender specific and obliges the State to take reasonable measures to support care within the home and wider community; and
- Amend Article 41 so that it would protect private and family life, with the protection afforded to the family not limited to the marital family.
“I also believe that a full debate on the Report should be afforded to all Member of the Oireachtas as soon as possible. There is no doubt that cross-party support will be needed in order for many of these recommendations to become a reality.
“I want to thank my Fine Gael colleagues for their full support – and in particular Frances Fitzgerald MEP for seconding my motion.
“Other political parties often try to assert that they hold a monopoly on issues of equality and often accuse Fine Gael of being a deeply conservative party. We know that this is simply not the case. Fine Gael is a progressive party and is proud to promote equality of opportunity, integrity and compassion as some of its leading values – and I look forward to working with colleagues on all sides of the political spectrum to ensure that gender equality is further embedded into our society,” concluded Minister Madigan.