The Children's Referendum: The Oireachtas Debates

The debates that took place in the Dáil and Seanad (known collectively as the Oireachtas) on the wording of the children’s constitutional amendment reflect similar debates that have been occurring over recent weeks on the wording of the amendment that will go before the people (see here). There was no direct opposition to the amendment, but there had been some (failed) attempts to expand the scope of the amendment.

In introducing the Thirty-First Amendment of the Constitution (Children) Bill 2012, the Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald stated:

The Bill I have brought to the House will allow for one of the most important referendums in the history of the State….The values it [the Constitution] espouses and rights it provides are so intrinsically connected with being a citizen of this nation that we rarely question from where those rights and values come. The only time the average person really needs to pay direct attention to the Constitution is when it is discovered to be lacking or when he or she needs to rely on it to protect his or her rights. In the case of the children of the State, it is lacking.

The focus in introducing the Amendment was the protection of those most in need of protection. Minister Fitzgerald herself notes that this amendment will generally only affect a very small number of children. The Taoiseach’s comments broadly reflect the Continue reading “The Children's Referendum: The Oireachtas Debates”

The Children's Referendum: The Oireachtas Debates

The Children's Referendum: Donnelly on the Referendum Process

Human Rights in Ireland welcomes guest contributor, Sonya Donnelly. Sonya is a practicing barrister who also lectures in Dublin Business School. She has spent the last year in Africa working as a project coordinator with Irish Rule of Law International on an access to justice project focusing on pre-trial detention in Malawian prisons.  She has written extensively on criminal justice issues and co-wrote a legal text for first year barristers, The Devil’s Handbook. In this post Sonya outlines the Referendum process as part of the Children’s Amendment Blog Carnival.

On Saturday, the 10th November 2012 you are being asked to vote in a referendum which concerns changes to the Constitution in respect of the rights of children.  On the page below, I will set out a short description of some of the key terms of relevance to the referendum process in order to give you a greater understanding of how this process will work.

What is the Constitution?

The Constitution is the fundamental legal document that sets out how Ireland should be governed. The Oireachtas cannot introduce laws in Ireland that are inconsistent with what is stated in the Constitution. Therefore it is sometimes necessary to change the Constitution and this is done by holding a referendum.

What is a referendum?

A referendum is a vote by the people of Ireland on a proposed amendment to the Constitution. A referendum gives the people the opportunity to express their opinion and vote for or against the proposed change. If a simple majority vote yes the amendment is approved and the appropriate words in the Constitution are removed and/or inserted. If a simple majority vote no then the Constitution remains unaffected.

What is the process for a referendum in Ireland?

In order to call a constitutional referendum, Continue reading “The Children's Referendum: Donnelly on the Referendum Process”

The Children's Referendum: Donnelly on the Referendum Process

Blog Carnival: The Children's Referendum

Aoife Nolan is Professor of International Human Rights Law in University of Nottingham. Liam Thornton is a lecturer in law and director of clinical legal education in University College Dublin. Aoife and Liam are organising Human Rights in Ireland’s contribution to the debate on Article 42A, the Children’s Amendment.

On November 10th 2012, a referendum will take place where people will have an opportunity to amend the Irish constitution to provide specific recognition of the constitutional rights of children in the constitution. Over the coming weeks, Human Rights in Ireland will provide expert analysis on the background to the introduction of the children’s amendment, an accessible legal analysis of each of the provisions of proposed Article 42A, and expert analysis and commentary on the children’s amendment. By offering accessible and concise information on the children’s amendment, Human Rights in Ireland seeks to contribute to, and demystify, the debate surrounding the children’s amendment. The provisional schedule for these posts are as follows:

On Wednesday, 17th October posts on the background to the children’s amendment; an explanation of what precisely a referendum is and an analysis of the Oireachtas debates (to date) on the Thirty-First Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2012

On Tuesday 23rd October a number of experts on constitutional law, drawn from regular authors to this blog and guest posts, will explain in an accessible manner each of the provisions of the proposed amendment: Article 42A.

On Friday 26th October, Human Rights in Ireland will be hosting a number of posts that will analyse various aspects of the children’s constitutional amendment, offering expert insight and opinion on the role and value of the proposed Article 42A.

The Thirty-First Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2012 proposes to delete Continue reading “Blog Carnival: The Children's Referendum”

Blog Carnival: The Children's Referendum