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Question

69. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans in respect of holding constitutional referenda over the next 12 months. [42204/18]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Thirty-seventh Amendment of the Constitution (Repeal of offence of publication or utterance of blasphemous matter) Bill 2018 was passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas on 20 September 2018. On 21 September 2018 the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government made a Referendum (Polling Day) Order appointing 26 October 2018 as the day upon which the referendum on the proposal contained in the Bill should take place.
It was the Government's intention that a referendum would also be held on that date to delete Article 41.2 of the Constitution which deals with a woman's life within the home. However, the decision of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality to undertake, on 19 and 26 September, pre-legislative consideration of the General Scheme of the Bill to amend the Constitution meant that this could not happen. When the Committee's report on this matter becomes available, I will consider what further steps might be taken.
Under the timetable approved by Government on 26 September 2017, it is proposed to hold a referendum on divorce in June 2019. In that regard, the Government has decided to support the Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Divorce) Bill 2016, a Private Member's Bill introduced by Deputy (now Minister) Josepha Madigan. The Bill completed Committee Stage in the Dáil on 12 July 2017. I am currently considering the issues raised by Deputies at the Committee Stage debate on the Bill and I will bring proposals to Government in that regard in due course.