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Ireland’s referendum is an attack on women Progressives are selling oppression as liberation

Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Charles McQuillan/Getty Images


March 4, 2024   10 mins

The constitution of the Republic of Ireland was voted into law by the Dáil Éireann (Irish parliament) in December 1937, having been approved earlier in the year by a referendum. After centuries of existing as a British colony, this was more than simply a symbolic moment. Ireland was now an independent republic. More than that: it had drawn up its own constitution, based upon its own heritage, culture and faith.

What did that look like in practice? It meant, for a start, that Ireland was now a republic rather than a dependency of the British crown. It meant that it was a neutral country, with no standing army. It meant that it would attempt to foreground and revive its own language, music, arts and sports, many of which had been suppressed under British rule. It meant that the government in Dublin claimed the right to govern “the whole island of Ireland, its islands and the territorial seas”, even though the six (mostly Protestant) counties of the north had chosen to remain part of the United Kingdom instead of being absorbed into the (mostly Catholic) republic.

It also meant that the new Republic was, at least in theory, a secular entity. Freedom of religious worship was guaranteed to all Irish people and the establishment of any state religion was banned. Significantly though, the same constitution recognised what it called the “special position” of the Catholic Church in Ireland. It also had a specifically spiritual — which meant a specifically Christian — flavour. Article 6, for example, which establishes how the new country is to be governed, states that:

“All powers of government, legislative, executive and judicial, derive, under God, from the people, whose right it is to designate the rulers of the State and, in final appeal, to decide all questions of national policy, according to the requirements of the common good.”

Meanwhile, Article 44 reads:

“The State acknowledges that the homage of public worship is due to Almighty God. It shall hold His Name in reverence, and shall respect and honour religion.”

Technically, then, while Ireland was always a secular state with guaranteed freedom of worship, the “special position” clause acknowledged that the Catholic Church was to be involved in the running of the affairs of state. The driving force behind the document was the Irish-American statesman Éamon de Valera, who, more than anyone else, built the Irish republic in his image as a veteran of the 1916 uprising, the country’s first Taoiseach (prime minister) and later its president.

De Valera was a complex man. He was deeply Catholic, and his traditionalism deepened, as it so often does, as he aged. He was responsible for the reference in the constitution to the “special position” of the Church, and he was responsible too, in consultation with the future Bishop of Dublin, for sowing Catholic social teaching throughout the state’s founding document. The constitution guaranteed that the state would “guard with special care” the institution of marriage, and it prohibited divorce. Outside of the constitution, his government prohibited the sale of contraceptives, and handed control of the education system to the Church. Long after De Valera’s time, Catholic teaching continued to drive state policy. In 1983, for example, the 8th amendment to the constitution, which banned abortion, was approved via a referendum and inserted into the document.

That referendum — and others like it — show that it was not simply de Valera’s faith and the Church’s power which created the Catholic-inflected constitution of the Irish state. It was also the people’s approval. De Valera was no outlier: he governed a deeply Catholic country. The Church not only had an effective monopoly on worship in the state, but also had a highly respected position as an institution which had often helped the people fend off the worst depravities of British rule, offering both charity and political resistance where often there had been none. Though Ireland was never in fact a Catholic state — de Valera, despite his own faith, always resisted calls for an established church, and always supported freedom of worship — it was for many centuries a very Catholic country.

But times change. In Ireland, perhaps, they have changed faster than anywhere else in Western Europe. The rise and fall of the 8th amendment to the constitution could serve as a striking symbol of the speed of this change. In 1983, the 8th amendment, guaranteeing the right to life of the unborn, was approved by 67% of voters in a nationwide referendum. Thirty-five years later, in 2018, the 8th amendment was rejected in another referendum by precisely the same percentage of voters: 67%.

“The governing classes of the Emerald Isle now define themselves against everything they used to be.”

In the 35 years between 1983 and 2018, Ireland had been transformed from a traditionalist, Catholic republic, still operating on the principles established by de Valera, into a globalised, progressive EU member state, operating on principles imported from San Francisco and Brussels. The Church had collapsed in spectacular fashion, at least partly as a result of its own sins: widespread child abuse by the clergy had come to light, as had abuse of women and children in mother-and-baby homes across the state. Meanwhile, the “Celtic tiger” economy of the Nineties had flooded the country with easy money, leading to an explosion in construction, economic growth, corruption and wealth. All of this was to implode dramatically in the huge economic collapse of 2008, but even this setback did not slow Ireland’s apparent desire to flee as fast as it could from its rural Catholic past, and into a future as a progressive corporate tech hub: an Atlantic Silicon Valley, with more rain and more potholes.

***

Every nation is built around a story; a foundation myth. The foundation myth of the Irish Republic of the Thirties was that of a Celtic Catholic nation throwing off the shackles of empire and building a country for its own people, around their own values. But that republic died with the 20th century. Now a new one has emerged with the age of globalisation, and it has a new myth. New Ireland is progressive. It is feminist. It is individualist. It is tolerant. It is irreligious. It is digital. It is diverse. It is, of course, Not Britain — but it is also Not Old Ireland. The culture of inversion is in full swing in Eire, as it is across the West. The governing classes of the Emerald Isle now define themselves against everything they used to be.

The constitution, however, has been slow to keep up. Documents are like that. As a result, there has been a slew of amendments to it in recent decades, all of which had to be approved by a public referendum. The direction of these has always been the same: they are designed to strip out the remnants of Catholic social teaching and insert instead the progressive equivalent. Over the past 50 years, amendments have removed the “special position” of the Catholic Church from the constitution, legalised divorce, abortion and gay marriage, prohibited the death penalty and allowed for various centralising EU treaties to be signed by the government, all of which reduced the Irish state’s political reach in Ireland while increasing that of the EU.

Traditional Catholics have been very unhappy about much of this — some of my older neighbours will bend my ear about it for hours — but there is no doubt that it is going with the grain of the culture, especially that of the younger population. Progressivism is the new faith of this republic, as it is across the West. Official Ireland prides itself these days on Dublin’s rainbow zebra crossings, on the country’s increasing levels of immigration (which, however, are increasingly resisted and resented by the population as a whole), on its role as an EU hub for Silicon Valley and Big Pharma, on its pioneering stances on the banning of tobacco and the legalising of gender self-ID. All that is Catholic melts into air in what was, just a few decades back, the most Catholic country in the West.

This Friday, Ireland will go to the polls again to vote in the latest referendum on constitutional change. This time around, the aim of the state is to alter the wording of Article 41, which is designed to promote and protect the institution of the family — text which New Ireland regards as “problematic”:

“The State recognises the Family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law.

“The State, therefore, guarantees to protect the Family in its constitution and authority, as the necessary basis of social order and as indispensable to the welfare of the Nation and the State.”

That “necessary basis of social order” is based on marriage, which is why:

“The State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of Marriage, on which the Family is founded, and to protect it against attack.”

The notion that the traditional family is a “moral institution” obviously cannot stand in a newly progressive nation. Our referendum will thus invite us to delete the words “on which the Family is founded” from the above clause. Marriage — having already been redefined by the legalisation of gay marriage — is now no longer to be recognised by the state as the basis of the family at all.

But it is the second proposal for change which has really caused controversy here. Redefining marriage and family is, like it or not, pretty much a done deal in the modern West. The Irish constitution, however, took its protection of the family one step further: it sought to define, and protect, the role of the mother. Here is Article 41:

“In particular, the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.

“The State shall, therefore, 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.”

As we can see, this patriarchal, sexist text discriminates directly against women. It claims that a woman’s place is in the home, and in doing so limits a woman’s economic choices. It is a relic of old Catholic Ireland — the kind of Christian-inspired sexism which has long held Ireland’s women back. This is why the government proposes to replace it with a new version:

“The State recognises that the provision of care, by members of a family to one another by reason of the bonds that exist among them, gives to Society a support without which the common good cannot be achieved, and shall strive to support such provision.”

Much better, isn’t it? No more mothers. No more women. No more “moral institutions” or “social order”. Progress! Hurray!

Except that it is not progress at all. It is, in fact, a corporate wolf wearing the clothing of a feminist sheep. The narrative being sold by the government and its supporters — which, as ever, means most of the country’s political, cultural and media elites — is that the constitution as it stands is a misogynist relic. The notion that “mothers” should put their “duties in the home” above their right to economic independence is the kind of prehistoric notion that should have gone the way of the dodo by now. Just as we know that families do not have to be based on marriage, and that marriage can be “non-binary”, so we know that the state has no right to insist that a woman put her “duties in the home” above her right to choose how to live her life.

If the constitution did, in fact, oblige woman to stay at home rather than working, then some of these points would be fair. But it doesn’t, as any visit to Ireland will swiftly make clear. Women here, as in any other Western liberal country, can do pretty much what they like. Ireland has had two female presidents already, and they doubtless won’t be the last. The constitution doesn’t limit the choices of women in any way. In fact, it does the opposite.

“The state is attempting in this referendum to con women out of their constitutional rights.”

The activist group The Countess, which campaigns for women’s rights in Ireland, is doing an excellent job of explaining how the state is attempting in this referendum to con women out of their constitutional rights, while pretending to do the opposite. As they point out in a detailed argument against the proposed changes, the 1937 constitution does not oblige women to stay at home. Rather, as the wording makes clear, it protects them if they choose to do so.

Understanding this changes the tenor of the whole conversation: or it would, if any of the “progressive” classes would acknowledge it. Unfortunately, the power of the “chaining women to the kitchen sink” narrative is so strong that it has been easy to sell the proposed change, especially to young women, as yet another move away from Catholic bigotry and towards current-year equality. The Countess, though, sees something very different happening. It’s an attack on motherhood:

“Of those who stay at home to look after their children in their early years, a staggering 94.3% are mothers. No one can argue with the importance of the mother-baby bond and the need not to rupture this bond. In clinical terms, we refer to this as one biological unit, the “mother-baby dyad”. However, if you are in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance, you must prove to the State that you are actively looking for work only eight weeks postpartum, lest your benefit be taken away. Herein lies a glimpse of the soul of the current government and its actual views on motherhood and the role of mothers.”

Article 41 currently protects the rights of any mother who wants to stay at home and look after her own children in her own family. It has, indeed, been used in court to argue against the state’s attempts to force young mothers into the market economy against their will. Opinion polls conducted recently show that an astonishing 69% of Irish mothers would prefer to stay at home with their children, rather than going out to work.

Here, then, is the nub of the matter: the vast majority of mothers in this country would rather bring up their own children in their own home than have to go to work. Article 41 of the constitution specifically guarantees their right to do so. Now the government wants to abolish it. In the name of “women’s rights”, the state intends to remove a constitutional right that most women value.

Why would they do this? The Countess offers an answer:

“Article 41.2 is a bulwark against the kind of neoliberal values that characterise this coalition, whereby all that matters is GDP and the meta economy. Mothering and the running of households is done by women, and this is explicitly and remarkably recognised for its benefit to all of society under Article 41.2. But, according to neoliberal economics, these things hold no value and therefore must be erased. In this worldview, mothering is disposable, replaceable and worthless, because it doesn’t contribute to GDP 
 In so doing, the unique contribution of women to society is erased.”

The Irish state is removing the rights of Ireland’s mothers in the name of “moving on” from de Valera’s Bad Old Catholic Ireland. What will be happening on Friday is a bait-and-switch operation. The people of Ireland are being told that by rewriting their constitution they can “liberate” the nation’s women from an outdated, patriarchal story. If they choose to do so, they will find instead that women have been “liberated” from their right to bring up their own children in their own home, rather than being forced into the market economy by a state which has no interest in anything beyond economic growth and a desire to seem “progressive” in the eyes of its EU neighbours.

What we are seeing here is a familiar story across the West today: the collusion of progressive values and corporate power. As so often, “liberation” from some notional “oppression” just happens to dovetail nicely with the need of the state and the corporation for more labour, more consumption, more expressive individualism. Progressive ideology and corporate capitalism march ahead, hand in hand, singing songs of growth and progress.

But will the New Ireland’s attempt to abolish motherhood in the name of that progress succeed, or will it be a bridge too far? Ireland’s referendum questions ought to help focus our minds on the much bigger cultural inquiry that we are all refusing to face in the age of the Machine: what do we — in Ireland, in Europe, in the West — actually think a human is for?

Soon enough, we’re going to find out.

*

A version of this essay was first published at The Abbey of Misrule.


Paul Kingsnorth is a novelist and essayist. His latest novel Alexandria is published by Faber. He also has a Substack: The Abbey of Misrule.


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David McKee
David McKee
2 months ago

Golly. Mr. Kingsnorth really has bought into the De Valera, “800 years of oppression” interpretation of Irish history. De Valera blackened the past in order to grant the poverty-stricken Ireland of his own era, some measure of legitimacy. But that’s by the by.

There’s a lot left out here. Does the Irish state pay child allowance? If so, will that remain? And is he saying that the Irish state currently pays unemployment benefit to any mother who wants it, no questions asked, for as long as the mother wants it?

I’m left with the impression the referendum debate is that very English thing: a blazing political row about the square root of the proverbial.

CF Hankinson
CF Hankinson
2 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

Interesting questions. Patriarchy currently relies on the man paying for the mother of his children to stay at home to care for his home and children. Communism/ Socialism relies on State provision of childcare to release women into the paid workforce to enable others to be paid for childcare and domestic work.
Neither is satisfactory for those women who wish to be mothers and bring up their children themselves.
So yes perhaps it is time the State offered financial support to mothers who wish to provide their own childcare without being totally dependent on a man or having to pay for others to do the job they want to do.
And what rights and responsibilities would or should the State impose on supported mothers? Would domestic work be paid for perhaps? Wages for housework?
Do women want it? There has always been an ambivalence. Reasonably so.
True feminism would surely allow women to choose whether they brought up their own children instead of having to go out to work for others, to pay others to look after them. An experience only on offer to women of independent means or those dependent on the father/ husband who pays for them.
It’s a minefield.
In the 1939 census wives were designated as ‘unpaid domestic workers’ that is they were not available for wartime work. Motherhood wasn’t mentioned although that was the real reason why these women weren’t available for work outside the home.
We haven’t moved on. Motherhood hits at the heart of patriarchy and now identity politics, which seeing the difficulty, is erasing the term. We can only watch and wait.

philip kern
philip kern
2 months ago
Reply to  CF Hankinson

It’s a sad state of affairs when the government needs to pay mothers to be mothers. A robust economy ought to provide a) decent-paying work, b) decent housing commensurate with a single income. It was that way when I was young, but that was a long time ago and, furthermore, the house we lived in was modest by today’s standards.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

Your questions (assumptions) are misleading.. Yes, unemployment benefit is gender neutral and children alliowance is paid in Ireland.
I think you missed the crucial point: Ireland’s Constitution guarantees the RIGHT of a woman to remain a fulltime mother and homemaker IF SHE CHOOSES it. We also have Single Parent Allowance, Carer’s Allowance and Rent Support.. all of which btw are far more generous than their UK equivalents.

William Shaw
William Shaw
2 months ago

Irish feminists probably don’t appreciate the mansplaining.
Why are men being allowed to vote on this female issue?
The writer should probably keep his patriarchal opinions to himself, stop exercising his male privilege, and let the women decide the issue.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
2 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Can I just ask if your volley of odd ‘patriarchy’ tropes is intended seriously, or as parody? Genuine enquiry.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 months ago

Pretty sure he’s joking. I hope so anyway, for his own sake.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

It’s really hard to tell these days, especially online.

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
2 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

William, you are on middle-class, apologetic male autopilot. Engage your brain.

Derek Smith
Derek Smith
2 months ago

William is pulling our legs.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Humour in GB Shaw vein?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Naw, you issued the core point..

Peadar Laighléis
Peadar Laighléis
2 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

No one explained how two Irish feminists were elected President and four as TĂĄnaiste (deputy prime minister) under this very article.

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago

This is perhaps not directly on point, but I for my part have zero sympathy for the Catholic Church in relation to the loss of its hold over the Irish people. The Church is reaping what it sowed.

Derek Smith
Derek Smith
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

As a Catholic, I agree with you.

Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Explain please

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago

What I mean is that if the clergy of the Catholic Church hadn’t turned themselves into a social club for paedophiles, the institution might be faring a little better today (and that’s not even going into the horrors associated with the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland).

Tom More
Tom More
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Actually despite the media drumbeat, the abuse was hardly ever pedophilia and was almost all homosexual abuse of teenaged pubescent boys and young men. The sexual “Revolution” as the Marxist Marcuse named it. It carries on in the woke “gender” insanity. The west really has become a cult of lies.

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom More

I’ve had that point put to me before (possibly even by you), and I agree that it is a valid one, in a technical sense. However, I would make two points: 1) At least some of the abuse by Catholic priests is paedophilia, strictly defined. 2) If the rest of it is “homosexual abuse of teenaged pubescent boys and young men”, why does that make it ok? Aren’t Catholic priests supposed to be celibate? How can one respect them if they spend a significant portion of their time sexually abusing people (whether children, or young pubescents)? How can one respect the Church heirachy for blatantly covering up this activity?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

It’s not on point at all! This is sure the poi t of the essay! Yes the RC clergy can rot but the Christian values it didn’t manage to snuff out remain not because of the RCC but despite it!

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Ireland has legalised same sex marriage. There are those who would argue (and I’m not one of them) that that is not in accordance with “Christian Values”.

Tom More
Tom More
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Same sex marriage is an ontological impossibility as two of the same sex obviously cannot “marry” which requires complimentary capacity. And now that we know (Ganna study) that such individuals who ordinarily emerge from broken homes and bad same sex parent relationships along with the very high percentage who are seriously sexually abused at the average age of eleven. And with over a million dead young men from the practice , perhaps sodomy stripes are not the most loving response to children who need help in natural human development. Real love.

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom More

Whether you agree with SSM is not to the point. The point is that Ireland (once the most rigidly Catholic country in Europe) has legalised it. Under the laws of Ireland, SSM is “marriage”.

Harry Phillips
Harry Phillips
2 months ago

Bizarrely, these obscure constitutional amendments of points that very few people are even aware of, are being pushed at a time when the nation is riven with demos expressing concern about immigration levels.

The outcomes are far from clear, but the agendas must be pushed regardless.

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
2 months ago

Love PK’s writing but in defending state handouts for mothers he misses the point and is undermining his own professed idea of family as having inalienable rights. Once you start taking State money to support your lifestyle that lifestyle is going to be determined by the government. What he should be arguing for is for people to become poorer in monetary terms in order to live a more fulfilled life which the Irish state (and the West in general) has been attacking for decades. That is what he has on his website so I don’t know why he is pulling his punches here rather than writing about specific and minor constitutional changes that are already de facto.

Also, he forgot to mention the promise of the gay rights lobby that they were looking to maintain the family and just expand the meaning of the word to include homosexuals which has now been shown up.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
2 months ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

If a state’s view, as written into its constitution, is of the nuclear family as the societal norm, then it is perfectly reasonable for state policies and funding to support and promote that norm. Supporting and promoting a norm does not require those outside the norm to be persecuted. Ie they don’t lose out, they just don’t benefit.
When so many of today’s problems have the undermining of the nuclear family as a causal or contributory factor, is it about time something was done to reverse the trend and not accelerate it further?

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
2 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

I don’t disagree in terms of the state undermining the nuclear family – I just think the more the state gets involved the more damage it can do. I am not sure exactly what support is given to single mothers in Ireland but I assume they fund and support other non-ideal forms of family rather than your utterly reasonable position of supporting and promoting a nuclear norm.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
2 months ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

I think you’re touching on something that appears to be inherent to the Irish Constitution: a moral stance which is now becoming either eroded or changed. Therein lies the problem. It’s perfectly possible to have a constitution without it being imbued with a moral stance.
This subject was integral to an article in last week’s Unherd from Giles Fraser, where i argued in Comments that politicians should not take it upon themselves to be either exemplars or upholders of a particular morality, but to legislate according to the democratically expressed wishes of the population. If this were the case, and the ROI hadn’t decided to set itself up in such a way, there would be no need for these amendments to its constitution via referenda.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
2 months ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

“What he should be arguing for is for people to become poorer in monetary terms in order to live a more fulfilled life which the Irish state (and the West in general) has been attacking for decades.”
This is the central – usually unasked – question in many contemporary political debates… How to navigate the tensions between economic/material productivity gains which yield better/happier/more satisfied life outcomes, and those which yield worse ones? What is the role of ideology, the state, incentives, etc. in shaping our collective and individual responses to that question? It’s a fascinating, complex, difficult issue, rarely asked in a direct manner.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 months ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

You seem to imply the State is the enemy of the Family.. maybe under extreme Communism yes, but otherwise surely not?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

The problem with governments is that they invariably become toxic and tyrannical. It’s a normal part of the human condition. The current form of government that we have now in the West is becoming rapidly obsolete, yet at the same time desperately clinging to its last vestiges of power.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

I agree it’s all moving in the wrong direction. In Ireland we hold onto values a bit better but yes, it is slipping.

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
2 months ago

Ireland was never a British colony. It was part of the UK.

Emmanuel MARTIN
Emmanuel MARTIN
2 months ago

Considering that Irish peasants were ruled by an arrogant protestant overclass putting the yoke on them and their faith, I would say this is wrong.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
2 months ago

Not all landlords were Protestant, and certainly not all tenants were Catholic. Under the Act of Union, Ireland held 16% of the seats in the UK House of Commons. The majority of the Irish electorate was Catholic and after 1829, so too were the majority of Irish MPs. For most of the period before 1916, most Irish people did not want to break from the UK and many identified strongly with British institutions, including the Army, the Navy and the Royal family. Ireland had some of the characteristics of a colony. But so too did Wales, or Yorkshire.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

A tad disingenuous.. draconian English rule with zero Irish involvement for how many of the 700 years of effective colonisation?

Peadar Laighléis
Peadar Laighléis
2 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Well, one point of irony was the Catholic Earl of Antrim having mainly Presbyterian tenants – but that was very much the exception.
I would say successive general elections in 19th and early 20th century Ireland returned clear majority for Home Rule candidates whose raison d’etre was to take Ireland out of the UK, even if they would have maintained a closer relationship with Britain than the republicans (however factionalised between 1921 and 1948) who eventually came to power.

Mike Wylde
Mike Wylde
2 months ago

With a few exceptions the English were treated in a very similar manner, often by the same people. The industrial revolution changed that, but only from a few land owning people to a few factory owning people (in many cases the same people under a different guise).
Ireland didn’t really move to the industrial part and hence it remained under the land owning structure.

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
2 months ago

I should clarify. It’ll be wrong to describe Ireland as a British colony after the 1600s.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 months ago

..a mere technicality. In any case, for most of it’s occupation it was governed directly from England so the technicality I even less relevant.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago

Come on now all ye revisionists. The irish people were/are a distinct people who were colonised in the sense that their land was taken from them, their language forbidden, their culture attacked ( pipers and harpists could be hung for example) and then subject to economic enslavement. I will accept that the average English commoner didnt do much better in the industrial revolition but that doesnt change the Irish experience of colonialism which is a historical fact by any standards regardless of any clever word play

Christopher Thompson
Christopher Thompson
2 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

hanged

David Ryan
David Ryan
2 months ago

Ireland didn’t become part of the United Kingdom until 1801. But it had effectively been a colony since the time of the Anglo-Norman conquest (12th century)

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
2 months ago

Nor was it a dependency…

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
2 months ago

Ireland was not a British colony.

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
2 months ago

Everywhere I look, I see the baby being thrown out with the bath water. Science sought to separate fact and superstition by doubting and demanding proof or evidence. By destroying every tradition we will eventually find out why the traditions existed and which traditions should have been retained.

Jonathon
Jonathon
2 months ago

But then it’s too late, sadly.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonathon

But we can restore such values if enough of us want to.. I thi know it might happen?

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 months ago

Chesterton’s fence

Ruth Ross
Ruth Ross
2 months ago

Sounds to me like they want the Mom out of the house ASAP so the baby gets into Progressive Gov’t run Nanny-care for early indoctrination.

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
2 months ago

Just as an important point of information in this era of misinformation: the 1937 Constitution did not make Ireland into a republic. The constitutional status of Ireland was kept deliberately vague in the 1937 document. Ireland was declared a republic in the Republic of Ireland Act 1949.

Also, the Irish Constitution does not say that a woman’s place is in the home. This is misinformation that has been spread by the government side in the upcoming referendum. The Supreme Court judge Marie Baker, Chair of the Electoral Commission, has clarified that the Constitution makes no such statement.

When government ministers were asked in a press conference recently why they were spreading misinformation, they walked out instead of answering the question.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 months ago

Ireland is a vassal state, twice over.. at once subservient to our overlords in Brussels the like of warmongering Ursula Von der Leyen and again under instructions from the US like all the other “Western” countries. And the US is under the control of AIPAC, controlled by Netanyahu, in turn controlled by Satan himself.. So, there you have it.. One World Order at last! ..if you discount the BRICS++.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
2 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

“whoever can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities” by Voltare.

Something to think about.

Jonathon
Jonathon
2 months ago

I’ve never given much thought to the constitution of our neighbours but it certainly is food for thought. I can see how the original wording can be seen as misogynistic but I do agree with the author it appears more to protect women who wish to remain at home. I wonder if thought was given to simply adding men to the clause in that way it would protect the (admittedly few) men who wish to stay at home, and that covers all basis – straight or gay.

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonathon

What’s misogynistic about the original wording? Paternalistic perhaps, patriarchal if you must, but not evidence of woman-hatred.

Jonathon
Jonathon
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew D

The ability to see how others perceive something doesn’t mean I agree with that. Indeed if you read my very next sentence it quite literally states I don’t agree with that.

R Wright
R Wright
2 months ago

Irish women deserve what they vote for.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

Sure, but approximately half of those women may be deprived of an existing RIGHT.. that they don’t want to lose.. As of now 100% of Irish women have that right to exercise IF THEY WISH.

Mick James
Mick James
2 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

How…in practical terms…would an Irish woman exercise that RIGHT? Will the state give you the money you need to raise your children without working?

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
2 months ago

Apart from my quibbles, this really is a superb article. Congratulations to the author!.

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
2 months ago

Over my time of living in Ireland until about 2016, as a citizen I was presented with numerous changes to the Constitution. In every single case that I can recall, I voted no.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 months ago

Not really sometging to boast about.. some were laudable eg repeal of article 2 which brought nothing but hatred from many of our NI co countrymen. The recognition of gay marriage was also inmy opinion, correct. But I take your overall point.

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
2 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Oh yes, I voted yes to that! That was the exception.

Tom More
Tom More
2 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

I gather you think “gay” is a real thing. We now know (Ganna) that there is no such thing as a homosexual person by nature. Same genome. Its an obvious developmental disorder as the Danish Registry study and NYC AIDS abuse stats show. We should stop railroading children. Kids in the west are being told they aren’t really boys and girls. The death of the west is deserved.

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom More

Yes, the world will be a far better place when China and Russia are running it.

Mick James
Mick James
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom More

What’s your genome got to do with your sexuality? In the 21st century pretty much all human behaviour is an “obvious developmental disorder” (says a man arguing with a man he does not know using a mobile phone).

Peadar Laighléis
Peadar Laighléis
2 months ago

Well, since voting for the first time in 1987 (Single European Act), I have only voted yes in one referendum to amend the Irish constitution. My first question in every case is “have all avenues been exhausted before putting this amendment?” Almost invariably the answer is no.

Peadar Laighléis
Peadar Laighléis
2 months ago

There have been constitutional amendments in Ireland on abortion, adoption, divorce, the death penalty, the right to bail, citizenship, extending the franchise in certain circumstances to non-citizens, the minimum age of the president, the university seats in the Senate, the existence of the Senate, whether proportional respresentation should be replaced by ‘first past the post’, the special position of the Catholic Church (which, by the way, was lifted straight out of Napoleon’s Concordat with Pius VII in 1801), same sex marriage, various European treaties and conventions (Accession to the Common Market, Single European Act, Maastricht, Nice, Lisbon – are there anymore?) and the British-Irish Agreement of 1998. That’s not an exhaustive list.
One thing is missing. There’s never been a referendum on whether Ireland should be a constitutional monarchy or a republic. In 1948, Ireland moved seamlessly from being one to the other by act of the Oireachtas (parliament). Ireland’s status as a republic, ironically, is a matter of statute law and not constitutional law. So, if the Oireachtas wanted to instate in the King of England or install the Stuart heir Franz Wittlesbach or empower the council of Gaelic princes to elect an Ard RĂ­ (high king, whether The O’Neill or The O’Connor Don or The O’Brien of Thomond), the Constitution would not prevent them from doing so.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 months ago

Articles like this make the membership fee worth it all on their own.

Bravo, Mr Kingsnorth.

Adrian Doble
Adrian Doble
2 months ago

A written constitution? What’s that?

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Doble

A document that locks in laws and attitudes of a particular moment in time, that can then be fiendishly hard to alter further down the track when situations and societal opinions change

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago

Ireland was colonised and/or settled in by Vikings, Anglo-Normans, English, Scots, Huguenots and others over many centuries, but was never a British colony. It was a Lordship with its own parliament judiciary and laws, throughout the Middle Ages, under Henry VIII it became a kingdom, and in 1800 its parliament was abolished and it joined Great Britain in the United Kingdom. It was one of the “Mother Countries” of the British Empire. It did not become a Republic in 1937 and nowhere does the word republic appear in the 1937 constitution. The king remained as part of the executive until the Republic if Ireland Act, 1949, changed the status of the state from undefined to republic.

David Ryan
David Ryan
2 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Sorry but that’s just wrong. Following the Anglo-Norman conquest of 1169-1171 Ireland effectively became a colony. The lordship the English established in Ireland had a parliament, judiciary and laws, true, but these were for the benefit of English settlers, not the native Irish. The Irish were denied access to the English common law.

Peadar Laighléis
Peadar Laighléis
2 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

The vikings never got very far in Ireland. The Lordship of Ireland was held by the King of England as a vassal to the Pope under the terms of the Bull Laudabiliter. This is why Henry VIII had the Irish parliament vote him King of Ireland in 1541. BTW, they were only representative of the Anglo-Norman settlers, as already observed.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
2 months ago

Worth a watch:
https://unherd.com/watch-listen/why-the-american-right-loves-viktor-orban/
Hungary has similar family promoting things written into its constitution and provides support and incentives to women who have children. With the diabolical state of most western countrys’ fertility rate who can say Orban is wrong?
https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/HUN/hungary/fertility-rate
https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/IRL/ireland/fertility-rate

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago

It is a fairly ham fisted attack on the family. Basically, its replacement of marriage with the term ” durable relationships” will allow the state to dictate rights rights and allocate resources to its favoured minorities. For example, a huge unreported fact in ireland is that the government is quietly buying a third of new housing stock, elevating prices for the average buyer ( usually families). This socialised housing stock will be allocated as the state/local officials see fit. The trend, as I see it is towards a dependend population rather then a strong family based culture. I do expect this amendend to be defeated which will leave a majority of the population who want a family based culture unrepresented by any parliamentary party ( as they are all dominated by progressives and pushing these changes) . Interesting

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
2 months ago

Welcome to progress, which is not always what it’s sold as being and full of contradictions. To wit, this referendum is being cast as either harming or benefitting women, in a time when “woman” itself is being stripped of meaning.

Tom More
Tom More
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Men and women are unintelligible outside of their obvious relatedness to one another sexually. Insanity kills.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 months ago

Can’t argue with any of that.. I can never disagree with Paul Kingsnorth it seems. Is the wisest man in Ireland*? Probably.
Yeah I know he’s English by birth etc but he us one of us now..

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 months ago

Arguably, the procreation and upbringing of children is THE most important function in any country.

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Indeed. Were it not for children, who would there be for Priests to sexually abuse?

Pip G
Pip G
2 months ago

That Ireland has been freed from a culture ruled by the reactionary state and a Church of superstition rather than Jesus Christ is welcome. I visited Ireland before it joined the EU and found it desperately poor, with passive superstitious people. Later I found a young confident people who treat us British as friends and equals. That must be welcome.

However, transition to a ‘progressive’ [what does that mean – progress to what?] country with imposition of a culture of individualism, destruction of family & society, and materialism leads to a demoralised (sic) people whose function is to be workers and consumers. As the writer says “What is a human for”?

A key element to constrain this is that the Church must come out of its backwardness and rediscover its rich heritage and philosophy articulated by the Church fathers: that we live in a family, a community, and a country; support each other; follow eternal principles. The reverse approach adopted in the UK will be harmful for the Irish not liberating. Regrettably the Church in England and Ireland seems unable to do this, having withdrawn into management & maintenance of declining congregations.

Tom More
Tom More
2 months ago
Reply to  Pip G

As I live in the dying west, Canada, and know the church’s teachings and sacraments, I would state that the Catholic church is the only possible answer to human life and its deepest reality. She IS sanity, as her founder is who He claims to be.

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom More

Any comment on why this Founder seems content for so many clergy in His Church to sexually abuse children?

Marissa M
Marissa M
2 months ago

It was always about choice though, wasn’t it?
It became about how quickly can you dump the kid off in daycare and rush back to work. It became about perpetrating the lie “you can have it all.”
It’s the same in the US, 56% of mothers would rather stay home. And I bet it you coordinated that with the percentage of mothers who wished they hadn’t even had children, it would be much higher.

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  Marissa M

If any of that 56% of mothers can afford to stay home, they are at liberty to do so.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
2 months ago

If Ireland wants to abort all the Irish babies, that only means that there will be fewer Irish idiots to plague the world. 50 years hence, the Irish population will probably be 5 million. 1 million Irish, 4 million Muslim Irish, as they have 6 or 7 babies per women, while the average Irish woman has 0.3 babies.

Peter Shaw
Peter Shaw
2 months ago

Ireland is changing. Women will one day be forced to stay at home.

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter Shaw

Why? The idea of women staying at home is so “last century”!

Tom More
Tom More
2 months ago

As a Canadian Catholic who watched what the JJCCJ report on abuse in the Catholic church being homosexual(81%) and not pedophilia, and with the Catholic church now being the safest institution for children on earth, it is a great shame that the naive openness of the church in the ’60’s sexual revolution has led to such a diminishment.
As shame also because Catholicism offers the only radically coherent and consistent view on the planet. I watch the west literally disintegrating around me. Divorce should of course be illegal as children don’t lose their need for a mom and dad and marriage is about protecting children. Human nature doesn’t change even in this age of narcissistic materialism, an incoherent ideology that rules the no longer liberal liberals.
I am a liberal incidentally and so of course I support all natural human goods from conception to natural death. I would of course be guilty of murder if I supported killing the innocent at their most vulnerable stages.
And of course the very idea of “feminism” as it chokes out of existence with the west is a patent absurdity. Men and women; the two sexes, are so blatantly obviously only intelligible in their relationship together for the joy of life.
And the insanity and decades long lies about “gender” are but the logical consequence of seeking to deny reality itself.
The church is about love. She is as she always was, the Body of Christ and she is what the words sanity and truth actually mean. I majored in western philosophy from the presocratics on incidentally and know Hume’s absurd “fork” rule.. which so ironically breaks his “fork” rule.
A cosmos , as C S Lewis learned from G K Chesterton and expressed so brilliantly can only trust what we call reason, if REASON is the ground of being. And of course it as as Aquinas showed and human reason can determine from solid evidences and sound argument.
Irish women .. all women … should not be forced into the workplace against their will, as the Marxist de Beauvoir insisted and the suicide of the west is not written in stone.

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom More

Divorce should of course be illegal as children don’t lose their need for a mom and dad“. Children don’t lose a mom and dad because of divorce. It’s just that mom and dad live in different houses. 

Melissa Martin
Melissa Martin
2 months ago

The Pill etc has paradoxically extended the maidenhood, the naïveté of young women.

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  Melissa Martin

“The Pill etc”? What is included under “etc”?

Margie Murphy
Margie Murphy
2 months ago

These constitutional amendments are pushed far left NGO’s who have way too much influence in government. They’ve pushed this one too far. There will be a strong No No vote in this.. a bloody nose for the ruling cabal and hopefully by extension a lessening of the influence of Marxist NGO’s.

james elliott
james elliott
2 months ago

“What we are seeing here is a familiar story across the West today: the collusion of progressive values and corporate power”

Ah yes, the merging of (Left wing) Political will with Corporate power.

Or, to give it its proper name, ‘Fascism’.

Betsy Warrior
Betsy Warrior
2 months ago

This new interpretation of the law seems an underhanded way of depriving mothers and their children of a healthy developmental stage to bond – instead adding more bodies to the labor pool which would profit corporations and employers. She would have to employ someone else to take over her work caring for her child when she’s at another job. This would double mothers’ workload as they will still have to come home to laundry, cooking, vacuuming, dishes as well as all their parenting duties like helping with homework and emotional needs. Please DON’T say if mothers go to work meaning outside the home as EVERY MOTHER IS A WORKING MOTHER on a 24 hour shift. Mothering work is just a more deeply committed work than other kinds. Just because motherhood is part of nature doesn’t make it any less laborious – it just seems to make it more invisible.

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  Betsy Warrior

This would double mothers’ workload as they will still have to come home to laundry, cooking, vacuuming, dishes as well as all their parenting duties like helping with homework and emotional needs“.
Why wouldn’t fathers help with this?

Tobias Mayer
Tobias Mayer
2 months ago

I imagine you are relieved, even happy with the actual Non/No result of the vote, in what is being described as a landslide. It seems the Irish people, for the most part, saw through this lie. But what next though, in this woke onslaught of common sense and the common good? We must, as Jesus tells us, “stay awake”.
Paul your work is a beautiful glimmer of light on a very dark, deep lake. Thank you for all that you do.