LEICESTER, United Kingdom – Ireland’s ruling government received a stinging defeat in a referendum to change the country’s constitutional provision aiming to ensure that mothers should not be obliged to work.

The current “woman in home” clause of the constitution says the Irish state will “endeavor to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labor to the neglect of their duties in the home.”

Supporters of the change to the Constitution wanted to include a new Article 42B, which said the state “recognizes that the provision of care, by members of a family to one another by reason of the bonds that exist among them, gives to society a support without which the common good cannot be achieved, and shall strive to support such provision.”

The change was not only pushed by the government, but also by the vast majority of opposition parties. However, the amendments were defeated with over 65 percent of the vote being ‘No’.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said the amendments had been “defeated comprehensively on a respectable turnout.”

“As head of Government and on behalf of the Government, we accept responsibility for the result. It was our responsibility to convince the majority of people to vote ‘Yes’ and we clearly failed to do so,” he said.

“I think we struggled to convince people of the necessity or a need for the referendum at all, let alone the detail and the wording. That’s obviously something we’re going to have to reflect on into the weeks and months ahead,” Varadkar said.

“When you lose a referendum this badly, by this margin, there are many reasons as to why its defeated and while the old adage is that success has many fathers and failure is an orphan, I think when you lose by this kind of a margin, there are a lot of people who got this wrong and I am certainly one of them,” he said.

Speaking to reporters, Senator Michael McDowell said he was pleased with the results.

“It appears that what’s happening is that the government misjudged the mood of the electorate and put before them proposals which they didn’t explain and proposals which could have serious consequences,” he said.

RELATED: Irish official rejects call for No vote on family amendment by bishops

On Feb. 25, the Irish bishops issued a statement saying they are concerned that the proposed Family amendment to the Constitution diminishes the unique importance of the relationship between marriage and family in the eyes of the government and society in Ireland “and is likely to lead to a weakening of the incentive for young people to marry.”

“The proposed amendment would have the effect of abolishing all reference to motherhood in the Constitution and leave unacknowledged the particular and incalculable societal contribution that mothers in the home have made and continue to make in Ireland,” the bishops write.

“The present constitutional wording does not in any way inhibit women from working or taking their proper place in social and public life. It does, however, respect the complementary and distinct qualities that arise naturally within the Family. The role of mothers should continue to be cherished in our Constitution,” the statement says.

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