Misprint in Bill 'should not have happened'

Fri, Oct 26, 2012, 01:00

THE CIRCULATION of printed copies of the children’s rights referendum Bill containing a misprint was a mistake that should not have happened, Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald said yesterday.

About 30,000 copies of the Bill sent to post offices across the country were recalled yesterday because they contained an incorrect reference that the proposed constitutional amendment related to article 40, which protects the right to life of the unborn.

“That obviously shouldn’t have happened. It was a mistake. I will certainly find out how it happened but the main point is that it’s been recalled,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

Ms Fitzgerald said she learned of the development when she read The Irish Times yesterday morning. A spokeswoman for Department of the Environment said it was made aware on Wednesday that there was an error in the copies of the Bill circulated to post offices. Under the Referendum Act 1994, referendum Bills must be made available to members of the public at post offices. “The department contacted An Post this morning [Thursday] who undertook to contact all its post offices, asking them to remove the incorrect version of the Bill from their offices,” the spokeswoman said yesterday.

An Post passed the instruction to its offices after 11am yesterday, by which time The Irish Times had collected copies of the Bill containing the misprint from three post offices in Dublin. The department spokeswoman said a new batch of Bills would be available for distribution today and work would continue over the bank holiday weekend to ensure the remainder were ready on Tuesday.

“These errors arose in the printers who are engaged since the department contacted them yesterday [Wednesday] in printing and distributing the correct version of the Bill to post offices at their own expense,” she added.

The referendum actually proposes to insert a new article into the Constitution. Entitled Children and numbered 42A, it aims to make it easier for the children of married parents to be adopted and to protect children at risk. Ms Fitzgerald yesterday attended a photocall to promote a Yes vote with members of the Oireachtas health and children committee, who took part as individuals.

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More than six in 10 voters have said they are “not very” or “not at all knowledgeable” about proposed changes to the Constitution under the children’s rights referendum, a poll has shown. The RedC poll, commissioned by the National Youth Council of Ireland, shows that while 74 per cent of the electorate are in favour of the amendment, 61 per cent are “not very knowledgeable” or “not at all knowledgeable” about it.

The survey of 1,000 adults, which was carried out last week, shows just 14 per cent of voters say they are “extremely knowledgeable” about the referendum while 19 per cent say they are “quite knowledgeable”.

Some 39 per cent of voters admit they are “not very knowledgeable”, and 22 per cent say they are “not at all knowledgeable” about it.