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Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar casts his vote in Dublin (OSV News/Reuters, Clodagh Kilcoyne)

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has conceded that his government was defeated “comprehensively” when voters rejected amendments to the constitution that the country’s bishops warned would have weakened supports for marriage and undermined motherhood. Source: OSV News.

Despite opinion polls showing a clear majority in favour of the government plan to widen the definition of the family to include other “durable relationships” as well as marriage, when votes were counted on March 9, 67.7 per cent of citizens rejected the amendment, while 32.3 per cent supported it.

A second amendment proposed removing a provision from the 1937 document that said women should not be forced by economic necessity to take a job “to the neglect of their duties in the home.”

Again, polls showed it was likely to pass, but this proposal was rejected by an even wider margin, 73.9 per cent to 26.1 per cent. It is the highest-ever “no” vote in Irish referendum history.

The amendments had been supported by all political parties except the small Aontú party, which only has one member in the parliament.

Speaking at the national count centre in Dublin Castle, Mr Varadkar said he was disappointed by the results. 

“The public comprehensively took the view they did not want to make changes to the constitution that we proposed. We accept that, we respect that and we take responsibilities for the results,” he said.

The referendums were held on March 8, designed to coincide with International Women’s Day, and the results were announced on March 9, just a day before Ireland traditionally celebrates Mother’s Day.

David Quinn, director of the pro-marriage think-tank the Iona Institute, said the rejection of both proposals was “the best possible present ahead of Mother’s Day.”

Maria Steen, a Catholic lawyer who campaigned against both proposals, described the result as “a great victory for common sense.”


Irish voters reject bid to redefine motherhood and family (By Michael Kelly, OSV News