Exclusive Protection of the Family Based on Marriage Must be Put to Referendum

Exclusive Protection of the Family Based on Marriage Must be Put to Referendum


31st May 2022 

The exclusive protection of the family based on marriage must be removed through a constitutional referendum, Treoir’s AGM and launch of the annual report will hear today.  

“This relegates families not based on marriage to a secondary status, deemed not deserving of Constitutional status nor the associated protections.” Professor Louise Crowley of University College Cork will tell attendees in her keynote address.  

Although there has been progress in making legislation more inclusive of the definition of family in relation to civil partnerships, increases rights for unmarried fathers, and guardianship of children by non-parents, “all of these ‘families; are still less than marriage in terms of status and state protections.” said Professor Crowley.  

Damien Peelo, CEO of Treoir, states “Every year, the number of births registered outside of marriage is growing. As Professor Crowley shows, the government need to hold a referendum to reflect the changes in Irish society give all families protection under the law, not just those based on marriage”. 

This situation means that unmarried family’s rights are not based in the constitution, and this has led to situations where long term cohabiting couples are denied State supports such as the Widows Pension and Widow’s grant, on the death of a partner. 

In relation to access, Professor Crowley continued that the lack of adequate, funded child contact centres to parents without their own suitable accommodation or those in need of supervision means that children often do not get access to one or both parents. These child contact centres were even more important to unmarried families as 66% of Treoir’s callers were living in insecure, shared or temporary accommodation. This reflects that the housing crisis has hit our most vulnerable, lone parent families the worst, with 54% of homeless families being female lone parent households.  

It is the right and in the best interests of the child to be loved and cared for by both parents where possible and safe to do so. As well as a constitutional right to housing, the government must prioritize funding supports that facilitate shared parenting and promote the equal care of children as recommended by the Citizen’s Assembly on Gender.” Mr. Peelo said.  

Notes to the editor:  

Treoir’s AGM and launch of their annual report will take place on Tuesday May 31st at 11:00 am at Ashling Hotel, 10 – 13 Parkgate St, Stoneybatter, Dublin 8, D08 P38N. 

Press is welcome to attend our AGM. Please contact Sinéad Murray on 0857352959 if you have any further questions.  


All of the following are available for interview.  

Professor Louise Crowley l.crowley@ucc.ie / 0878341481 

Damien Peelo, CEO of Treoir: damien@treoir.ie / 0879714890 

Sinéad Murray, Communications Officer of Treoir : sinead@treoir.ie / 0857352959