FRESH from voting on lifting its abortion ban, the Republic of Ireland is set for a new debate on modernising the nation with plans for a referendum to delete a reference in the constitution to the idea that a woman’s place is in the home.

The Irish Government Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan is seeking Cabinet approval today for the plebiscites scheduled to take place on 26 October, alongside a vote on the offence of blasphemy.

Article 41.2 of the Irish Constitution, drawn up by the independent Republic in 1937, refers to a woman’s place in the home.

It says: “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.”

The clause reflects the strong influence of the Catholic Church’s social teachings in Ireland in the 1930s and are now regarded as out of step with modern Ireland.

Some 88 per cent of members of the country’s Constitutional Convention voted against its inclusion when the body reported to the Irish Government in 2013, while 98 per cent were in favour of changing it to gender-neutral language to provide a recognition to carers. However, it is understood changing the wording is not likely to be an option presented to voters.

The proposal for simple deletion has been questioned by a number of TDs and Senators privately.

Fine Gael TD Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, deputy chairwoman of the woman’s caucus, questioned the Minister’s decision and others raised whether carers should receive another form of constitutional protection.

Fine Gael Senator Catherine Noone said she was in favour of straightforward deletion, arguing the 81-year-old clause should never have been inserted in the constitution. It was inserted in a different era and reflects a patriarchal society that no longer exists, Noone added.

The vote will take place at the same time as a referendum on removing the offence of blasphemy from the constitution. Blasphemy is defined as “matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion”.

The Constitution of Ireland asserts the national sovereignty of the Irish people and guarantees certain fundamental rights, along with an elected non-executive president, a bicameral parliament, a separation of powers and judicial review. It is the second constitution of the Irish state since independence, replacing the 1922 Constitution of the Irish Free State. It came into force on in December 1937 after a national plebiscite held the previous July. The Constitution may only be amended by a referendum.