Referendum Commission urges vote
The Referendum Commission has urged voters to have their say on the children referendum tomorrow.
In a final statement before the polls open at 9am, commission chair Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan said that any proposal to amend the constitution “is left entirely to the people to decide”.
“Every voter should take the opportunity to make their voice heard. We are privileged to live in a democracy with a written constitution which we the people own,” she said.
“As the Supreme Court said yesterday ‘the Constitution belongs to the people and may be amended only by the people in a referendum’.
“Whether or not the Constitution should be changed as proposed will be decided to-morrow by the Irish people, with each voter having an equal voice. If you do not vote you are giving up your right to take part in making this decision. So don’t let others will decide for you, use your vote.”
Ms Justice Finlay Geoghegan said that if voters still wanted information on the referendum proposal they could take a few minutes to read the Referendum Commission’s independent guide that had been distributed to every home. Alternatively they could read it at www.referendum2012.ie.
“It has not been the subject of any criticism or challenge,” she said.
There were a number of elements to the proposed amendment, but if voters looked at the guide for a few minutes they should get “a general understanding of the proposal and the other relevant articles in the Constitution”.
“The four key elements concern the recognition and protection by the State of the rights of children; the circumstances in which the State can intervene in exceptional cases where parents have failed in their duty towards children; adoption; and the position of children in certain court proceedings,” the chairwoman said.
“I think our guide explains these clearly and if voters read it they can form a view on whether or not they support the proposed change.”
She said it was unusual for voting to take place on a Saturday and while this should give many voters a better opportunity to get to their polling station, it was important for people to remember to find a place for voting in their normal Saturday routine.
Polling stations open from 9 am to 10 pm.
“The commission does not argue for a yes vote or a no vote but it does argue that all those eligible to vote do so,” the chairwoman said.