Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD, speaking following a meeting of the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle tonight, has said:
“Despite considerable disappointment with how the government has handled the upcoming proposals for constitutional change, Sinn Féin has decided to support a yes vote in both referendums. This was a missed opportunity to guarantee and vindicate the rights of carers and those with disabilities.
“In supporting these propositions, we recognise their limitations and commit that a Sinn Féin led government will build on these changes to actually deliver meaningful change for carers, for families and for those with disabilities.”
Teachta McDonald further said:
“During the debates in the Oireachtas on the referendum Bills last month, we in Sinn Féin supported the broad intent of both proposals, but also posed questions, sought clarifications and raised concerns.
“It is clear that the questions to be put to the people in upcoming referendums are not reflective of either the recommendations of the Citizens Assembly or the subsequent cross-party Oireachtas Committee Report. That is regrettable.
“Having long sought and supported changing the constitution to remove outdated language concerning women in the home and to provide additional rights to families not based on marriage – including single-parent families – we had hoped that more substantive questions could be put to the people and that clear vindicable rights could be conferred on some of our most marginalised citizens.
“The government have chosen to propose very minimal changes and the question for Sinn Féin is to support some change or no change at all. We have come to the decision to support the upcoming proposals on the basis that some change is better than none, but these are the government’s referendums and they cannot escape very valid criticism for the manner in which these proposals have been rushed through the Oireachtas.
“Carers feel abandoned and let down by this government. They need to see much more substantial supports delivered, whether they are a parent to a young child, someone caring for an elderly relative, or someone supporting a relative with a disability.
“For example, the Programme for Government committed to reviewing and updating the National Carers’ Strategy and extending free GP care to carers in receipt of the Carer’s Support Grant, yet a recent report by Family Carers Ireland shows no progress has been made on either. This is not acceptable.
“A Sinn Féin government would stand up for carers and ensure they are finally supported and recognised for the crucial work that they do. Regardless of the results of the referendums, carers and families must be supported. That is what Sinn Féin would do in government.”