Is there anything to be said for another referendum? Or eight?
Government wants to hold series of referendums in 2018 and 2019
The Government wants to hold eight referendums over the next two years, including one on abortion next year.
Some of the referendums may be held in conjunction with other votes such as a possible presidential election in October 2018 and the local and European elections in June 2019 .
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is presenting a timescale for the series of votes at today’s Cabinet meeting.
Mr Varadkar also examined whether a referendum was required to enshrine the office of Ceann Comhairle in the Constitution but decided against it. The Cabinet was also discussing a possible vote on Ireland’s participation in the Unified Patent Court but is to seek further clarity before proceeding with any such vote.
Here is a list of the questions that will be posed over the next two years. It is worth noting referendums cost between €12 and €14 million to hold, in addition to €2 million for the Referendum Commission.
Referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment: May/June 2018: This referendum is likely to be held on its own. The public will be asked if the eighth amendment, which places the life of the unborn on an equal footing to the mother, should be removed from the Constitution or amended. The question people will face will be determined by an Oireachtas committee examining the Eighth Amendment.
Referendum to remove blasphemy as an offence: October 2018: This will be held alongside a Presidential election, if one takes place. It will ask if Article 40.6.1(i) of the Constitution should be amended to remove the offence of blasphemy. Blasphemy means it is illegal to publish or utter a matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion.
Referendum on women’s place in the home: October 2018: This will also be held on the same day as a possible Presidential vote. The Constitution states that the State “recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved”. It continues: “The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.”
People will be asked if such a statement should be removed or altered. The Constitutional Convention recommended it should be made gender neutral to include other carers both “in the home” and “beyond the home”.
Referendum on whether Ireland should have directly elected mayors: October 2018: This will also be held alongside the Presidential election. While the Government has yet to outline a concrete view on this, it would essentially ask if cities including Dublin should follow similar European cities and directly elect its own Mayor. The Dáil debate a motion to extend such plans to cities including Waterford, Limerick and Cork.
Referendum on giving Oireachtas committee more powers: Late 2018: A date for this has not been set but the Government advises the earliest it could be is 2018. It has not decided the question it will pose. However it will essentially be a re-run of the referendum in 2011. People will be asked whether it is appropriate to give Oireachtas committees powers to make findings of fact.
Referendum to extend voting rights to emigrants: 2019: A question will be posed as to whether Irish citizens living abroad should be allowed to vote in Presidential elections.
Referendum to reduce the voting age: 2019: The Government will ask if people aged 16 should become eligible to vote.