Taoiseach defends referendum policy


No court has ever specifically set out the “parameters, confines and meaning” of the McKenna judgment, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

He added that Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald had “followed a clear line in dealing with the requirement to have information given to people and to deal with misinformation” in the children’s rights referendum.

“After all, there were groups stating that there would be compulsory vaccination of children and that the State might step in and prevent parents from bringing their children to Mass if that was their wish,” he said.

The Taoiseach was replying to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. Mr Martin had said the decision in favour of the referendum was “stained somewhat” by the judgment of the Supreme Court that the Government had not only dismissed the McKenna judgment, but breached the Constitution in carrying out its own promotional campaign.

Mr Martin said the court was clear the Government’s material contained a misstatement and that extensive passages did not conform to the McKenna judgment.

“For some reason, the Government obviously decided to formulate its own information and advocacy campaign parallel to the information campaign of the referendum commission and, presumably for its own political purposes, to use some of the taxpayers’ money to advance its own situation.”

Mr Martin asked if the Attorney General had examined all of the information contained in the Government’s booklet and on the website prior to circulation.

Mr Kenny said the Fianna Fáil leader would be aware that the High Court had given a clear 11-page judgment on the information in respect of the website, advertising and booklet, and what the Government was doing.

“Clearly, on 8th November, when the Supreme Court made its decision, the Government responded immediately, in fully accepting its decision and in acting accordingly.”

Mr Kenny said the Supreme Court had produced a preliminary judgment and it was important to await the detail, which would be published next month.

He said the bottom line was that the people had changed the Constitution and the Government would now move on to introduce the necessary supplementary legislation.