Text of child rights plebiscite agreed


THE PROPOSED wording for a referendum on children’s rights has been unanimously agreed by the all-party Committee on the Constitution, which will launch its final report tomorrow.

Chairwoman of the committee Mary O’Rourke said the 120-page report contains, as well as the wording, all the information surrounding how agreement was reached. Unanimity will facilitate the holding of a referendum, but Ms O’Rourke said it was up to the Cabinet to agree to hold a referendum and set a date. The committee’s mandate was to reach a consensus on wording.

Minister for Social and Family Affairs Mary Hanafin suggested however that such a referendum, and the election of a Dublin lord mayor, originally proposed for June, could be “at the back end of the year”. She said “the legislation for the mayor of Dublin won’t be ready until then and certainly no agreement on a constitutional referendum would be until then either.”

Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics, Ms Hanafin said: “We would anticipate with the election for the lord mayor of Dublin, the two byelections, in Donegal and Dublin South and possibly also at least one constitutional referendum.” She added that “We have also promised in the programme for Government that there would be a constitutional referendum on a court of civil appeal. So all of those should probably take place, if they are to take place, around the same time and that certainly won’t be until the back end of the year.”

Two other referendums are under consideration, along with the children’s rights amendment – one to establish a new court of civil appeal, the other to broaden the role of women in the home to recognise the role of the parent.

However, Taoiseach Brian Cowen told the Dáil last week that there were no plans to hold all three referendums on the same day, and no date had been set.

The 15-member Committee on the Constitution has held 62 weekly meetings since its establishment and received some 200 submissions. The report will be laid before the Oireachtas tomorrow and is expected to be considered by Cabinet and the Attorney General in the coming weeks.