On Saturday, November 10th 2012, you will be asked to vote on a proposal to change the Irish Constitution. The proposed changes to the Constitution concern the rights of children. The proposal is to add a new Article 42A to the Constitution and to delete the existing Article 42.5.
Right: The posters are up! (click image to enlarge)
While the proposed new Article has a number of parts to it, you may only vote yes or no to the total proposal. You may not vote to adopt only part of the proposed Article 42A, nor may you vote to adopt it and retain Article 42.5 in its present form.
The proposal contains four main elements:
- Explicit obligation to protect and vindicate rights of children
- State intervention if parents fail in their duty
- Best interests and views of the child
While the Referendum Commission's Independent Guide has been circulated to households throughout the country, copies are also available in your local library.
The following is the text of Article 42A.
Children: Article 42A
The State recognises and affirms the natural and imprescriptible rights of all children and shall, as far as practicable, by its laws protect and vindicate those rights.
1° In exceptional cases, where the parents, regardless of their marital status, fail in their duty towards their children to such extent that the safety or welfare of any of their children is likely to be prejudicially affected, the State as guardian of the common good shall, by proportionate means as provided by law, endeavour to supply the place of the parents, but always with due regard for the natural and imprescriptible rights of the child.
2° Provision shall be made by law for the adoption of any child where the parents have failed for
such a period of time as may be prescribed by law in their duty towards the child and where the best interests of the child so require.
Provision shall be made by law for the voluntary placement for adoption and the adoption of
1° Provision shall be made by law that in the resolution of all proceedings—
i. brought by the State, as guardian of the common good, for the purpose of preventing the
safety and welfare of any child from being prejudicially affected, or
ii. concerning the adoption, guardianship or custody of, or access to, any child, the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration.
2° Provision shall be made by law for securing, as far as practicable, that in all proceedings referred to in subsection 1° of this section in respect of any child who is capable of forming his or her own views, the views of the child shall be ascertained and given due weight having regard to the age and maturity of the child.
The following is the text of Article 42.5, which it is proposed to delete from the constitution:
In exceptional cases, where the parents for physical or moral reasons fail in their duty towards their children, the State as guardian of the common good, by appropriate means shall endeavour to supply the place of the parents, but always with due regard for the natural and imprescriptible rights of the child.
Children's Referendum (childrensreferendum.ie - Department of Children and Youth Affairs). (Note: "Website taken down as court rules Government information on children's referendum is biased." Irish Independent, 8th November)
The Children Referendum (Citizens Information Board).
Thirty-First Amendment of the Constitution (Children) Bill 2012 (Houses of the Oireachtas).
Who stands where on the children's referendum? (Irish Times, 19 Sept).
Registered to Vote?
And don't forget, you must be registerd to vote in order to have your voice!
If you are not on the Register of Electors and you wish to vote in the upcoming Referendum (taking place on 10 November 2012), you must submit your application to be included in the Supplement to the Register of Electors by Tuesday 23 October 2012. More informaton from the Citizens Information Board.