The majority of members of the Citizens' Assembly on gender equality broadly favour altering the so-called 'women in the home’ clause in the Constitution in line with the recommendations of the 2013 Constitutional Convention.

The newly constituted Assembly considered the Article 42.1 of the Constitution on the second day of formal hearings in County Dublin. 

It states that "…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 2013 Constitutional Convention recommended that the clause be retained and amended to make it gender neutral.

It also required the State to ensure a "reasonable level of support" for carers.

In July 2018 the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan sought approval for a referendum to delete the article, rather than amending it.

However amid differing views on whether that was the correct approach to take, it did not happen and now the matter is before this newly constituted Citizens' Assembly. 

During feedback from members of the Assembly, the majority of the them supported the position put forward by the 2013 Constitutional Convention on the matter, however there were dissenting views and members also made their own observations and sought clarification on certain issues, including language.

What constitutes a 'family'?

Earlier, the Citizens' Assembly heard personal stories from parents whose families are not defined as such under the Irish Constitution as it met for day two of formal hearings.

Under Article 41.3 of the Irish Constitution, the family is founded on the institution of marriage.

The article says: "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."

Today, the assembly heard from Adele O'Connor, an unmarried mother, who spoke of the stigma she experienced.

"During my daughter's education, parent teacher meetings etc, I was called Mrs and my ex's surname. When I corrected them I would get that look, 'these are one of those unmarried mothers'. These stereotypical responses came from different members of society," she said.

Ms O'Connor also spoke of how when she was born in 1972, her mother wore a wedding ring even though she was not married "such was the shame about having a baby outside of marriage".

She also asked the assembly "because I chose not to marry, does that make my child and my family not a family?"

"I have to disagree," she said.

Paula Fagan, a mother of two and the CEO of LGBT Ireland, told the Citizens' Assembly that unlike other families she and her partner Denise are not currently both recognised as legal parents to their children.

Ms Fagan said that while the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 will come into force in May 2020, it means that some LGBT parents will be able to establish a legal parental relationship with their children.

"However this law does not cover all LGBT families and it will not cover our family for example," she said.

Father of two Dave Saunders spoke of the trauma of his relationship break up and the lack of supports available for men in that situation.

According to Professor Linda Connolly of the Social Sciences Institute, who also addressed the assembly, 38% of all births in the first quarter of last year were outside of marriage and civil partnership, and the figure approximates half of all births in the main cities of Dublin, Cork and Limerick.