Letters to the Editor: Proposed wording of amendments to the Constitution

Irish Examiner readers consider issues including the proposed amendments to Bunreacht na hÉireann regarding women and the family, conflict in the Middle East, and neutrality
Letters to the Editor: Proposed wording of amendments to the Constitution

Original documents on display ahead of last year's centenary events to commemorate the proceedings of the 1922 Constitution Committee. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins 

In the coming weeks, the Dáil is expected to discuss the wording of the amendments to the Irish Constitution on women and the family, which are to go to referendum in March

The wording should enable legal enforcement, otherwise it makes a mockery of the recognition that carers, overwhelmingly mothers and other women, have been campaigning for and are entitled to. The whole of society depends on this life-giving, life-enhancing work, yet carers are impoverished and discriminated against for doing it. 

Following a strong recommendation from the Citizens' Assembly, the relevant Oireachtas committee came up with a remedy for the wording of article 41.2 which, taken together with a change to broaden the constitutional definition of the family, would allow for this legal enforcement:

1. The State recognises that care within and outside the home and family gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.

2. The State shall, therefore, take reasonable measures to support care within and outside the home and family.

This is the wording which should be put to a referendum. Anything else is scandalous, expecting women, and it is mainly women, to struggle on with little or no state support. We need to tell our TDs and senators that we deserve deeds, not words. Invest in caring, invest in carers.

Maggie Ronayne, Global Women’s Strike, Galway

Religious divide prevented peace

The preamble of the Constitution which includes the phrase “our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial”. This phrase from the Constitution shouldn’t be considered to be about something positive that religion has achieved for Ireland but instead it should be considered to be about how the fight in Anglo-Irish relations was tragically prolonged by disputes over Protestant and Catholic doctrine.

Upon the island of Britain, peace was achieved between Scotland and England by the the mid-18th century while, in Wales, peace was reached with England two centuries earlier way back in the 1500s. These two important achievements in Britain were helped, I believe, by the fact, that religious differences between all those three countries were considered by most people living there to be relatively minor.

It is quiet ironic and sad as to how the core Catholic doctrine of the miracle of transubstantiation should have been allowed to become for many years a cause of prolonged conflict and division? God would surely have been dismayed that a belief in his physical presence upon Earth should cause this to be the case because he is considered by many to be the “prince of peace”. Perhaps in times past if enough people had thought more deeply about what their Christian religion should really stand for then they might have been able to reach a proper peace agreement centuries earlier between Ireland and England like how Scotland was able to achieve it?

Sean O’Brien, Kilrush, Co Clare

Remember just one Palestinian child

Emily Hand, who has been reunited with her family, was never far from our thoughts here in Ireland.

Since that happy event came to pass, it is now time for Tánaiste Micheál Martin and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who spoke of Emily daily, to learn the name of even one Palestinian child murdered by Israel in Gaza, so we at home will also know of just one of those 5,000 innocents, to be sadly remembered.

Robert Sullivan, Bantry, Co Cork

Gaza civil war split

I was surprised to hear Mary Robinson accuse Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu of being responsible for the divisions between Hamas and Fatah. I would have thought that the civil war in Gaza in 2007 in which Hamas killed scores of Fatah members was a more likely source for the rupture.

Ciarán Raghallaigh, Cavan

Ireland’s neutrality

US military associated aircraft are still using Shannon airport and Irish airspace to support military actions in Ukraine and the Middle East. On November 20 a German Luftwaffe Nato transport aircraft landed and spent an overnight at Dublin airport. The following day, Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin said the Government was moving to remove the triple lock.

On January 12 this year the Department of Defence issued a press release stating that the Government approved the participation by the Defence Forces in a German-led EU Battlegroup in 2024/2025. This will involve a mechanised infantry company of 174 Defence Forces personnel. If the deteriorating conflict in Ukraine spreads beyond Ukraine’s borders, this battlegroup could be deployed in so-called crisis management operations against Russian forces.

Given that 23 members of the European Union are full members of Nato, this means Nato has virtually absorbed the EU military structures. Ireland’s membership of such an EU Battlegroup and military alliance is not compatible with any form of neutrality as defined by international laws.

The press release states that “the Defence Forces participation in Battlegroups supports Ireland’s efforts in securing partners for UN blue hat operations”. Since the end of the Cold War Nato, including several of the most powerful EU states, have usurped the role of the UN in breach of the UN Charter to wage wars of aggression against Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere using bogus excuses such as crisis management and humanitarian ‘responsibility to protect’.

Irish neutrality must be restored and not abandoned.

Edward Horgan, Castletroy, Limerick

Scooter danger

On my daily stroll recently, I witnessed a fellow male walker being whacked into by a youth on an electric scooter on the footpath.

Sincere apologies from the young rider with a solemn promise to keep to the road in future. We all parted on the friendliest of terms, and up and away with the scooter boy — on the footpath of course.

Tom Gilsenan, Dublin 9

Increases in PRSI

The announcement by the Government to increase PRSI contribution for employees, employers, and the self employed will go down like a lead balloon for most of the working electorate. While the Government explains that it wants to add to the social insurance fund, the reasons given may be somewhat disingenuous. What are they not telling us, one has to ask?

Using the tried and tested excuses of retaining the pension age at 66, or a new pay-related jobseekers benefit for those who become unemployed, may hit all the right notes, but being the cynic that I am I think there are other reasons. One of those reasons may be the €220 paid out to over 95,582 refugees that have come from Ukraine at a total cost to the taxpayers this year at €2bn.

Then there are our 13,500 asylum seekers who get paid €38.80 and €29.80, per adult and child respectively. The cost of accommodating asylum seekers rose by 87% last year to a total of €386m.

Public expenditure alone has increased from the low of €68.1bn in 2016 to €103bn, so far, in 2023, an increase of €35bn.

Not forgetting the cost to service our national debt which stands at over €239bn at a cost per capita of €44,000 per person of the 5.1m who live in Ireland. Servicing this debt has cost us €60bn over the past decade up to 2021.

Our over-reliance and dependence on windfall corporation taxes from multinationals may come to an end given the global shift in tax policies for multinationals.

Inflation which was at a high of 9.6% in 2022 is now a more respectable 3.60% this year, still above the average of 2.2%.

This reduction in inflation was offset by ECB interest rate hikes from 0.5% to over 4%, 10 in all to September of this year, which added extra cost to those with mortgages or small businesses who have loans.

Maybe some of the above analysis and figures I have alluded to, if our Government was being sincere, is the real reason why we are being asked to pay more in our taxes.

There comes a breaking point when given all of the increases, including PRSI, the electorate will unfortunately vote for populism, rather than for pragmatism.

Christy Galligan, Letterkenny, Co Donegal

More in this section

Cookie Policy Privacy Policy Brand Safety FAQ Help Contact Us Terms and Conditions

© Examiner Echo Group Limited