Ireland is to hold a referendum to remove a clause in the constitution marking the importance of a woman’s “life within the home” and encouraging mothers to shun employment to fulfil domestic duties, the government announced yesterday.

The move is the latest to update Ireland’s socially conservative 1937 constitution to reflect a more secular and socially liberal population.

In recent decades opinions have changed rapidly as the Catholic Church’s power has waned. A 2015 referendum introduced gay marriage and a vote earlier this year allowed access to abortion.

The constitution, which includes a number of references to the country’s traditional Christian ethos, currently contains a clause that “recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the state a support without which the common good cannot be achieved”.

A second clause obliges the state to “endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home”.

Ballot papers are placed on a table as the count in the Irish referendum on the 8th amendment concerning the country's abortion laws, May 26 Credit:
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty

Yesterday the government passed a motion to delete this “outdated” provision.

Charlie Flanagan, the justice minister, said it would ensure that women had “real choices about what to do with their lives”.

The vote will be held on the same day as Ireland’s presidential election, which is due by November.

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