Martin welcomes Saturday vote and urges 'honest and positive' campaign
FIANNA F�IL:FIANNA FÁIL has urged an “honest and positive” campaign in the Children’s Referendum at the launch of the party’s drive for a Yes vote on November 10th.
Party leader Micheál Martin said it was the “first time since the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 that all the political parties are asking people to vote yes”.
He welcomed the fact that the referendum was being held on a Saturday, as students had been seeking this change to polling day for a long time. “We would like to see a strong turn-out of students in particular.”
Fianna Fáil was focusing specifically on “the young vote”, and he described the referendum and “back-up” legislation as “a very sensible approach to putting children first”.
Fianna Fáil spokesman on children Robert Troy said: “This is an opportunity to strengthen the rights of all children by inserting an article specifically outlining the rights of our children in our Constitution. It’s an important step towards ensuring Ireland is a place where children are heard, protected and respected.
“Specifically in relation to the adoption legislation that will follow: it’s an opportunity for us to give so many children a second chance in life.”
The proposed amendment would help to “ensure that the voice of the child will be a paramount consideration in dealing with cases of childcare, access, custody and guardianship”. The referendum was “not a panacea but it’s a step in the right direction”.
“We would hope the level of media coverage would increase in the coming weeks, because it is very important that people out there are fully aware of what this referendum is about,” Mr Troy said. The party’s director of elections for the campaign, former minister of state for children Barry Andrews, recalled that he “had a role to play in the genesis of the proposal”, building on a 2007 draft by then minister for justice, equality and law reform Brian Lenihan and former attorney general Rory Brady, both now deceased. “It didn’t attract a great deal of support at that time and it was controversial, but I think anybody who looked at the proposal of 2007 and compared it to the proposal that’s going before the people on November 10th will be forgiven for remarking on how similar it is.
“There have been additional elements brought into it, which we very much welcome, particularly the element in relation to the voice of the child: that wasn’t present in the 2007 proposal.
“The government that I was a member of did include it and had intended to put that to the people, before that government came to an end . . . ” Mr Andrews said the message to party members was: “We had a lot to do in relation to the preparation of this.”