Skip to main content

Your Vote is Your Voice

On 8 March 2024, Irish citizens were asked to vote in two referendums to change our Constitution.

The first Referendum concerned the concept of Family in the Constitution

The second Referendum proposed to delete an existing part of the Constitution and insert new text providing recognition for care provided by family members to each other.

You have two separate votes on whether you wish to make the proposed changes to the current text of Article 41 of the Constitution.

You can find all the information from the Referendums on Family and Care below:

Referendum information booklets

Referendum information booklet cover with decorative images of voting. Text on front cover says: Friday 8 March Referendums of Family and Care Your independent guide Your vote is your voice Find us online electoralcommission.ie/referendums

Easy-to-Read referendum information booklet

Word Format
PDF Format

Irish Sign Language (ISL) referendum information booklet

Referendum information booklet – large text format

Referendum information booklet cover with decorative images of voting. Text on front cover says: Friday 8 March Referendums of Family and Care Your independent guide Your vote is your voice Find us online electoralcommission.ie/referendums

Videos

Frequency Asked Questions

The Role of The Electoral Commission

Information on the Referendums on Family and Care

The Role of Referendums

Voting in a Referendum

Referendum proposals

The Family Amendment

The 39th Amendment to the Constitution will be on a white coloured ballot paper. It deals with Article 41.1.1°and Article 41.3.1° of the Constitution, both of which relate to the Family.

In Article 41.1.1° “The State recognises the Family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law.”

In Article 41.3.1° “The State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of Marriage, on which the Family is founded, and to protect it against attack.”

The Constitution currently recognises the centrality of the family unit in society and protects the Family founded on marriage.

The Proposal

In this amendment there is one vote for two proposed changes. The Proposal involves the insertion of additional text to Article 41.1.1° and the deletion of text in Article 41.3.1°. These proposed changes are shown below:

Proposed to change Article 41.1.1° text in bold:

Article 41.1.1° “The State recognises the Family, whether founded on marriage or on other durable relationships, as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law.”

Proposed to change Article 41.3.1° by deleting text shown with line through it:

“The State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of Marriage, on which the Family is founded, and to protect it against attack.”

Legal Effect of a YES Vote

If a majority votes YES, then the Constitution will change.

The constitutional protection of the Family would be given to both the Family based on marriage and the Family founded on “other durable relationships”.

The Family founded on marriage means the unit based on a marriage between two people without distinction as to their sex.

The Family founded on other durable relationships means a Family based on different types of committed and continuing relationships other than marriage.

So, different types of family units would have the same constitutional rights and protections.

The institution of Marriage will continue to be recognised as an institution that the State must guard with special care and protect against attack.

Legal Effect of a NO Vote

If a majority votes NO, then the present Articles 41.1.1° and 41.3.1° would remain unchanged.

Article 41.1.1° would therefore continue to give special constitutional status only to the Family based on marriage between two people, without distinction as to their sex.

Article 41.3.1° would also continue to recognise Marriage as an institution that the State must guard with special care and protect against attack.

The Care Amendment

The 40th Amendment to the Constitution will be on a green coloured ballot paper. It proposes deleting the current Articles 41.2.1° and 41.2.2° and inserting a new Article 42B.

Article 41.2.1° “In particular, the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.”

Article 41.2.2° “The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.”

The Constitution currently, by Article 41.2, refers to the importance to the common good of the life of women within the home and that the State should endeavour to ensure that mothers should not have to go out to work to the neglect of their “duties in the home”.

The Proposal

In this amendment there is one vote for two proposed changes. The proposal involves deleting Article 41.2.1° and Article 41.2.2° and inserting a new Article 42B, as shown below:

“The State recognises that the provision of care, by members of a family to one another by reason of the bonds that exist among them, gives to Society a support without which the common good cannot be achieved, and shall strive to support such provision.”

Legal Effect of a YES Vote

If a majority votes YES, Articles 41.2.1° and 41.2.2° will be deleted, and a new Article 42B will be inserted into the Constitution.

It is proposed to delete the entirety of current Article 41.2 and insert a new Article 42B.

The new 42B would, firstly, recognise the importance to the common good of the care provided by family members to each other.

Secondly, it would provide that the State would “strive to support” the provision of such care within families.

Legal Effect of a NO Vote

If a majority votes NO, then the present Articles 41.2.1° and 41.2.2° of the Constitution will remain unchanged.

Article 41.2 would continue to recognise the importance to the common good of the life of women within the home.

It would also continue to require the State to endeavour to ensure that mothers should not have to go out to work to the neglect of their “duties in the home”.