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Carlow Nationalist — Fianna Fáil launches campaign for ‘yes’ votes in referendums

By Cillian Sherlock, PA

Tánaiste Micheál Martin has said he hopes for “humane and respectful” debate as he warned about the risk of disinformation affecting voters in the upcoming referendums.

Two votes will be held on March 8th to amend the Constitution.

The first is on whether the Constitution should be changed to extend the definition of “family” beyond only those based on marriage to include “durable” relationships.

Irish constitution referenda
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. Photo: Niall Carson/PA.

The second is on whether to delete a reference to the role and duties of women in the home and replace it with a new article placing an obligation on the state “to strive to support” the provision of care by families.

Launching his party’s campaign for yes votes, Mr Martin said on Tuesday that there was a need to be vigilant that the debate does not “get distorted by unreasonable claims”.

He said: “The harsh reality is that we have at various points over the years had referendum campaigns which have been distorted by what we today call disinformation.”

He said “extreme and invented claims” have often caused public concern.

Irish constitution referenda
Micheál Martin and director of elections deputy Thomas Byrne listen as Minister for Education Norma Foley speaks Photo: Niall Carson/PA.

Mr Martin said the proposed changes would reflect the reality of contemporary Irish society.

“A reality which is more inclusive, a reality which respects the right of women to choose their own role in society, a reality which acknowledges the diversity of Irish families, a reality which values the role of care for our more vulnerable citizens.”

Also speaking at the event, education minister Norma Foley said women should not be held back by “archaic language in our Constitution”.

She added: “This is why we are proposing to update our constitutional wording to remove any doubt: A woman’s place is wherever she chooses it to be.”

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