The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has said they are recommending that the article in the constitution relating to a woman's place in the home be amended to reflect the work of carers.

The recommendation is in spite of the Government's position to delete the reference first and amend it following wider consultation.

Chief Commissioner Emily Logan also told the Oireachtas Justice Committee that she made it clear during a meeting with the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Social Protection in July that the commission did not support the Government's approach.

"Article 41.2 perpetuates stereotypical attitudes towards women and the role of women in our society and embeds a value system in our constitional framework that serves to undermine gender equality," Ms Logan said.  

However Ms Logan said while the article's assumptions of who carries out this work and where may be outmoded, at its heart is a "clear recognition of a public good".

She added that there is an opportunity to not only to delete "an archaic reference" but also "to introduce a compassionate, generous recognition of the public good realised within Ireland's diverse families and in caring roles."

"The Commission therefore believes that amending Article 41.2 to render it gender neutral and wider in scope, rather than deleting it simpliciter, is a means towards preserving, and expanding that important recognition of an important public good in our fundamental law," Ms Logan said.

Meanwhile, the National Women's Council also called for time to allow informed public debate on the issue, warning that otherwise it could become divisive. 

"There is a danger of it becoming divisive - between people dedicated to working in the home and those who work inside and outside the home; divisive between those who do unpaid work that contributes to society and those who do paid work; and divisive between families and between women and men who work in the home," NWC Director Orla O'Connor warned.

A Government proposal to hold a referendum to delete the Article on the same day as the Presidential Election had to be postponed after the committee decided to hold pre-legislative scrutiny.

Dr Laura Cahillane, of the School of Law at the University of Limerick, told TDs and Senators that they needed to consider is what the purpose of the provision should be.

"This was a major downfall of the current provision - it was never clear whether it was intended to be purely symbolic or whether concrete rights flow from it and because it was never really challenged from that perspective in the courts, it has been effectively useless in law," Dr Cahillane said. 

She also said the language in current provision was "embarrasing", adding that international lawyers are also taken aback by it when they read it. 

Dr Cahillane said the members also needed to consider if they wanted to create a new provision which would have a legal effect. 

In an earlier session, Justice Minister Charlie Flangan said the government had decided to recommned the deletion of the article for sound reasons, mainly that of gender equality. But he said the issue of gender equality had been "pushed aside". 

"Of course the issue of caring is really important but the fact that many commentators did not consider it sufficiently important to have a debate on women's equality is to me somewhat telling. It suggests that women's issues remain of secondary importance," he said. 

However, he was strongly criticised by Independent4Change TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace over the Government's record on gender equality, citing the high cost of childcare.