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Referendum awareness campaign leaves people with more questions  

Students and other local people in Dublin have been encouraged to get out and vote in the March 8th double referendum.

In the photo: Art O’Leary, Ms. Justice Marie Baker with TU Dublin Students Union and first year law students and second year journalist students. Photo taken by TU Dublin Students Union

The Electoral Commission came to TU Dublin’s campus in Grangegorman recently. The commission came to explain the contents of the two-part referendum happening on March 8th and asked that the younger generation should vote on it. 

The chairperson for the commission, Ms. Justice Marie Baker, explained that changes to the constitution would widen the concept of family to include more than marriage.  

There will be additional changes such as a new reference to carers. This change would acknowledge all individuals who offer care, as well as the removal of the reference to women’s domestic obligations from the Constitution.  

On voting day, voters will be presented with two pieces of paper, a green one to change the Constitution on the woman’s role in the home, and a white one to change the concept of family. 

On the left:  Chief Executive Officer Art O’Leary. In the middle, Chairperson Ms. Justice Maire Baker, and on the right, Ombudsman Ger Deering. Photo taken by Doireann Moroney

Twenty-one-year-old Kate Travers said, “I have no idea what the vote entails, I didn’t even know there was a vote. Even after knowing now, I don’t think I’ll go out and vote anyways.” 

Despite all this campaigning around the country to spread awareness on the vote, most people haven’t a clue a vote is happening, and if they do, they tie it back to the government playing a game of gender politics.  

Fifty year old, Seán Moloney, said: “I know there’s a vote, but I don’t care for it. The government could be doing something worthwhile for this country and building more houses. But instead, they’re worried about gender politics. They’re a joke.”

There is a divide among opinions on whether this referendum is needed and if the government should be focusing on more pressing matters, such as the ever-looming housing issue, which seems to be getting worse each month. 

There are some people who are all for a yes vote and consider it to be significant to the government moving with the times and the shifting political ideologies.   

Twenty-nine year old Edward O’Brien said, “I’m going to be voting yes to both questions. I think that it’s a needed change, despite what a lot of people are saying. It just makes things fairer for people who aren’t married, and I think it will help to make Ireland a more progressive society.”  

According to Mullins & Treacy Solicitors, unmarried couples in Ireland do not have the same legal privileges as married couples. This has an impact on significant lifetime events like purchasing property, having children, and securing an inheritance. 

“I know the supreme court has said that Article 42 does not actually mean a woman’s place is in the home,” O’Brien said. “But look at our past, where women had to give up work after marriage. And even today it just looks really outdated so I think it needs to go.”   

Many have taken to social media to voice their frustrations or approval with the way the government is making steps to ‘modernise’ the constitution. As of now, opinion seems quite evenly divided. 

For more information on the upcoming referendum you can head over to the Electoral Commission’s website, as well as their Twitter and Instagram pages under the same handle.

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