On 8 March 2024, Irish citizens will be asked to vote in two referendums to change our Constitution.
Make sure you are registered to vote on www.checktheregister.ie
The deadline to register to vote February 20th for standard, in-person voting.
The deadline to register for ‘postal voting’ or ‘special voting’ status is February 12th. For find out more see ‘Postal and Special Voting Status’ below.
The 1st referendum concerns the expanding the concept of Family beyond the marital family in the Constitution
The 2nd referendum proposes 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.
Treoir, as part of broader coalition of organisation, is campaigning for a Yes/Yes, in both referendums.
Treoir, Kinship Care Ireland and the Teen Parents Support Programme are campaigning for #VoteYesYes in this referendum as we believe this is an historic opportunity to recognise, support and appreciate ALL families in Ireland.
Only the marital family in Ireland has Constitutional protection and yet Ireland today has a huge diversity in family types – cohabiting couples with or without children. one-parent or lone parent families, blended families, kinship care families – and they all deserve Constitutional protection.
- Irish families are not based only on marriage- this amendment gives equality to different family types
- Cohabiting couples with or without children would get more recognition, rights and protection in relation to public and private pensions, tax, property and inheritance.
- To remove outdated sexist language and enhance public recognition of care done by fathers and kinship carers.
- If it passed, this referendum will be used to persuade and advocate future Governments to do more to support different families – one-parent families, blended families, families sharing parenting, kinship care families, and young parents. The public mandate would be on supporting all families in Ireland, not just those based on marriage.
- To persuade and advocate that future Governments support men in care roles (e.g fathers). Also, it would help destigmatise men in caring roles and promote gender equality in care.
- Constitutional Protection (as opposed to legislation) – the progress and protections different Irish families have gained over the decades depend on the government of the day. It should be the will of the people to change, not a government. Including Constitutional protection ensures that ALL Irish families are protected.
- Destigmatisation of families not based on marriage such as one-parent families and a recognition of the diversity of family life in Ireland.
- Recognition for kinship care families in the Constitution. If passed, Ireland would be among the first countries globally to place the explicit recognition of family care at the heart of our nation’s founding document.
- The purpose of the ‘durable relationships’ is to move away from a rigid definition of the family towards a more flexible approach that accounts for the fact that families come in all shapes and sizes
- 40% of births are outside the marriage.
- 40% of Families in Ireland are non-marital.
- Estimate of 10,000-12,000 children in kinship care families in Ireland.
- 150,000 Cohabiting Couples, 75,000 Cohabiting couples with children.
- 18% of families in Ireland are one-parent families.
- 80% of one-parent families were headed by women (20% headed by men).
- Estimate of 500,000 ‘family carers’ (not kinship carers) in Ireland.
- Kinship care families are often not recognised for what they are – a family. Not adequately supported by the State in terms of guardian/foster care payment, access to respite, carers work-leave and supports for the children in their care.
- Current constitution doesn’t include non-marital families and we need a constitution that supports the diversity of Irish family life.
- Irish family life is diversifying – more family types are forming regularly – we need flexible language.
- All families and especially children should be treated equal regardless of their parents’ marital status – not the case in terms of parental leave, Widow’s Pension, Tax codes etc.
- Remains to be seen how John O’Meara Supreme Court ruling will affect cohabiting couples with or without children or other durable relationships like one-parent families and kinship carers.
- Social Welfare and Tax Codes
- Cohabiting Couples Redress Scheme – when a relationship breaks down, cohabiting couples have fewer rights than married couples in terms of the Family Home, Maintenance (not for children) etc.
- Inheritance different for cohabiting couples -v- married couples. Cohabiting couples are treated as strangers for Inheritance and Gift Tax purposes.
- Private Policies – for life insurance and pensions, many policies specify that only a spouse or civil partner may benefit. Where a policy specifies that only a spouse or civil partner may benefit, a cohabiting partner will not have any entitlements.
Property and the Family Home
The family home of a married couple is protected in legislation. One spouse or civil partner cannot sell, mortgage, lease or transfer the family/shared home without the consent of the other spouse or civil partner.
If your spouse or civil partner dies, you do not have to pay Capital Acquisitions Tax on any inheritance you receive from them.
If you are living with your partner in their house, they do not need your written consent before they can sell or lease the house.
Even if you are joint tenants (you both co-own the property in equal shares), if you are not married and your partner dies, you (the surviving joint tenant of the property) may be liable for Capital Acquisition Tax because of becoming full owner of the property through survivorship.
Children and guardianship
Married parents are automatically joint guardians of their children and have equal rights in relation to their children. Neither separation nor divorce changes this.
All mothers, whether they are married or not married, have automatic guardianship to their children. A father who is not married to the mother of his child does not have automatic guardianship rights, except in specific circumstances of cohabitation. Unmarried father who is granted guardianship by the court, can have it removed but a married father cannot.
If you are married or in a civil partnership, your surviving partner has the right to a share of your estate (your possessions) when you die, no matter what you have said in your will.
Spouses and civil partners are not liable for Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT) on inheritances from each other.
If you have been living together with your partner and you die without a will, your partner has no automatic right to any share of your estate no matter how long you have been together.
Even if your partner has provided for you in their will, you will be treated as strangers for Capital Acquisitions Tax purposes in terms of your inheritance. Cohabiting partners pay tax at 33% on gifts/inheritance over €16,250.
Pensions for surviving spouses or partners
If your spouse or civil partner dies, you may qualify for a Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s (Contributory) Pension.
You cannot qualify for a Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Pension no matter how long you have been together.
- Postal VotingPostal vote applications are available for the following:
Special VotingIf you live in a nursing home, hospital or similar institution, and due to illness or disability you cannot go to your polling station to vote, you may apply to be added to the special voters list. This means that you will be able to vote at your hospital or nursing home on polling day. You will find the form here.
- Where due to illness or disability you are unable attend your polling station on polling day.
- Where because of your work or because you are studying full-time in the State, you are unable to attend your designated polling station on polling day.
- Diplomats serving abroad.
- Whole-time members of the Defence forces (You may only vote by post)
- Members of the Garda Síochána
- Application for a postal vote for prisoners detained in prison.
- Application for a postal vote for if you are employed by the Returning officer for an electoral event.
- A person whose safety may be at risk can apply to be an anonymous elector and they would also vote by post.
Marriage has been shown to facilitate social cohesion and reduce crime
Equality facilitates social cohesion, not a marriage certificate.