"Legal Experts in Favour of Children's Referendum" says Yes Campaign

Published date: 
23 Oct 2012

Tuesday 23 October 2012: For immediate release

Legal experts in Dublin publicly declare their support for the Children’s Referendum today, in a seminar for legal practitioners in Dublin.  With misinformation from the NO camp permeating the media, this seminar on the Children’s Referendum will inform the legal profession of the benefits of the Children’s Referendum in their day-to-day work.

Chaired by Judge Donal Barrington (former Supreme Court and High Court Judge, European Court of Justice), speakers include:

  • Judge Catherine McGuinness(Former Supreme Court Judge and Chair of Campaign for Children)
  • Catherine Ghent(Solicitor, Gallagher Shatter Solicitors)
  • Conor Power(Barrister-at-Law)
  • Muriel Walls(Partner, McCann Fitzgerald Solicitors)

Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, says: “There has been a lot of rubbish written about this referendum.  We have real experts speaking tonight, who work on the frontline with children and families.  It is high time that the legal profession get an opportunity to understand the nuts and bolts of this amendment, so we can get on with the business of making our courts work in the best interests of children.  You can’t get more copper-bottomed than this panel of experts – and if they say the Children’s Referendum is worth supporting, then it’s worth our while getting a strong and robust YES vote on Saturday 10 November.”

Barrister Conor Power says: “The Constitution is a political and a legal document.  This referendum is important from both perspectives.  It will rebalance the Constitution to ensure the explicit recognition of childhood and children’s interests. Legally it will enshrine a long overdue express recognition of children’s rights and will clarify the law to ensure that children’s best interests are paramount. Until now that principle has been qualified. That was a limitation that caused undue difficulty and complexity in protecting children.”

Muriel Walls says: “Separation and divorce seriously impact on children and fundamentally changes their lives. The constitutional amendment will require "the best interests" of the children to be the paramount consideration in court proceedings for guardianship, custody and access. The views of the children (based on age and maturity) shall be heard and given due weight.  This requires us all to encourage children to speak up and say how they feel to parents and their family, and for parents to listen to and hear what their children have to say.”

Former Supreme Court Justice, Catherine McGuinness, and Chair of Campaign for Children, says: “The case for constitutional change is undeniable, and so we must take bold and decisive action. I believe that this referendum is an historic opportunity to ensure this generation, and future generations, of children are better protected, respected and heard.”

The Yes for Children national campaign believes this referendum will:

·         Provide greater protection for children at risk.

·         Allow the up to 2,000 children trapped in long term state care to be adopted and given a second chance at having a loving permanent family.

·         Ensure the best interests of children is the paramount concern in judicial decisions affecting children.

·         Ensure the voices of vulnerable children are heard.

·         This referendum is a statement of intent - it says who we are as a country and how we value children.


Further information on Yes for Children can be found at www.yesforchildren.ie



For more information and interview bids, please contact:
Carys Thomas

Communications Director, Children’s Rights Alliance

Tel: 087 7702845 / 01 6629400

Mobile: carys@childrensrights.ie

Web: www.childrensrights.ie


Shane Kelly

Communications Director, Yes for Children

Tel: 087 619 3004


Notes to Editor:

  1. Yes for Children is a national campaign led by Barnardos, Children’s Rights Alliance, ISPCC and Campaign for Children calling for a YES vote in the children’s referendum. We believe that this referendum is an historic opportunity to ensure that this and future generations of children in Ireland are better protected, respected and heard.
  2. The seminar will take place in The Law Library, Distillery Building, 145 – 151 Church Street, Dublin, on Tuesday 23 October 2012, 6.30pm
  3. Agenda

6:00                Registration / tea and coffee

6:30                Introduction by Judge Donal Barrington (Chair), Former Supreme Court and High Court Judge, European Court of Justice

6:40             Judge Catherine McGuinness, Former Supreme Court Judge and Campaign for Children

7:00                Conor Power, BL

7:20                Muriel Walls, McCann Fitzgerald Solicitors

7:40                Catherine Ghent, Gallagher Shatter Solicitors

8:00                Questions and Answers

8:30                Close

Yes for Children