Strengthening children's rights in the Constitution has been a long-standing goal of the Alliance, since its formation in 1995.
The People of Ireland voted YES in the Children's Referendum on Saturday 10 November 2012 to support the Thirty-First Amendment of the Constitution (Children) Bill 2012.
The Alliance warmly welcomed the Children's Referendum and campaigned for a YES vote.
Why was the Children's Referendum important?
- For the first time, the Constitution is able to take a child-centred approach to the protection of all children and allow the State to better support families who are struggling, rather than wait for a situation to reach crisis point.
- It allows up to 2,000 children, currently in long-term State care, the opportunity to be adopted and given a second chance at a loving, stable and permanent family.
- It bases child care, adoption, guardianship, custody and access decisions on what is in the best interests of the child.
- It ensures that judges listen to the views of children when making decisions in child care, adoption, guardianship, custody and access cases
- It sets out how we, as a country, now view and value children and help us move beyond the damning history of child abuse in Ireland
The Alliance developed a suite of materials in support of the Children’s Referendum:
- Summary Explanation of Amendment Wording
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Short Guide to the Children’s Referendum
- Nóta Treorach maidir le Reifreann na Leanaí
- Analysis of the Children’s Amendment
- Note on the Children’s Referendum and Disability
- Campaign Toolkit for the Children’s Referendum
- Background Material to the Children’s Referendum
- Guide to Amendment with a focus on adoption
You can go to the 'Irish Constitution' section of Resources, for a comprehensive listing of all our publications in relation to our nearly 20-year campaign for constitutional reform.
While the Alliance is hugely optimistic about the potential of the constitutional amendment, we are not naïve. The amendment will not, and cannot, solve all ills. Much work remains to be done. If the Children’s Referendum is passed, the Alliance will actively lobby for seven new commitments from Government.
Seven New Commitments
- Timely introduction of specific legislation to give effect to the constitutional provisions
- Introduction of a comprehensive Children’s Bill to address outstanding gaps, including the child’s right to know his or her identity and reform of the law on guardianship
- Resources must be provided to support the implementation of the amendment
- Provision should be made to support the Judicial Studies Institute to instigate judicial education on the amendment.
- The judiciary and Oireachtas should rely on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in its interpretation of the amendment, in particular when identifying ‘natural and imprescriptible rights’ for children (Article 42.A.1).
- The amendment sets down a legal minimum standard. The judiciary and the Oireachtas should build upon this standard in their interpretation of the amendment. For example, by legislating to respect the best interests and views of the child in a broader range of judicial and administrative decisions.
- The issue of constitutional protection for the right to equality and non-discrimination should be considered by the Constitutional Convention.