The Childrens Referendum: what's it all about then?


The children s referendum takes place on Saturday 10th November 2012.   What does this referendum mean for parents and children?  We have put together some useful links that might help explain the children s rights referendum for you and help you make your decision.

This referendum seeks to protect children, support families, remove inequalities in adoption and recognise children in their own right.  The intention is to ensure the safety and welfare of all children.

The proposal is for existing article 42.5 to be removed in favour of the proposed new article 42A.

This is argued to be more child-centred and focuses on the best possible outcome for the child, rather than on the reasons for their parents’ failure.

The proposed article 42A “Children” includes the following points:

1.    Protects Children

Ensuring the basic rights of all children are protected by law.

2.    Supports Families

Where parents are failing in their duty to ensure the safety and welfare of their children, the state can use the current laws and child protection systems to provide a safe home for the child. This will be regardless of the parents’ marital status.  An example of the reason for this is where defence lawyers could use the fact that parents were married as a reason for leaving a child with their family.

Typically, children are only taken into care in extreme circumstances when every possible option has been exhausted. Also, 91.5% of children are in family care which is much higher than the rest of Europe. A third of foster carers are relatives, this option is used if the extended family is safe and secure.

3.    Removes Inequalities in Adoption

Children in foster care should be entitled to permanency in their home life regardless of their parents’ marital status. Some children in long term foster care come to the courts before their 18th birthday asking to be adopted so they will have a legal adopted family before they become an adult, they currently can be treated differently legally depending on their parents’ marital status.

The new wording removes this possibility for inequality and allows every child to have the same rights to a secure family situation.

4.    Recognises Children in their Own Right

As well as the existing rights of the family in article 41, the voice of the child will be strengthened by this new article. Children’s views will be taken into account according to their age and maturity and their best interests will be the paramount consideration.

Where to Find More Information – The official government website for the Referendum has a good FAQs section as well as Fact Sheets. – Yes for Children is a campaign led by Barnardos, Children's Rights Alliance, ISPCC and Campaign for Children calling for a YES vote in the children's referendum.  The "Real Stories" section gives some food for thought. – The Referendum Commission's independent guide to the referendum.


children s referendum postersMeet the children behind the posters, Sarah McDowell (11) from Dublin and Matthew Lawless (6) from Wicklow. 

Photograph Frank Miller.

TD Stephen Donnelly has some useful links.

Young Fine Gael have a good infographic (they are campaigning for a Yes vote so it will reflect that)

Videos: Yes and No

We hope you have found these links useful.  Have you decided how you are going to vote on 10th November?   What are your thoughts on the Referendum as a parent?  Tell us in the comments below.

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