The Children’s Referendum – A Mockery of Public Debate?

The Amendment

Here is article 42.5 as it has been written in the Irish Constitution since 1937.

“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.”

If there is a ‘Yes’ vote it will be deleted and replaced with an expanded and more detailed version.

Article 42A

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. Provision shall be made by law for the voluntary placement for adoption and the adoption of any child.

4. 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.

My Opinion

Why am I, a childless Irish citizen, blogging on this subject?

Due to the right laid down in 1937:  no amendments to the Irish constitution can be made without the consent of our citizenship by means of referendum.

Along with all my fellow citizens I have a say.

So I had a look at the above amendment, read it and thought, fair enough.

It  includes all of the original wording of article 42.5 and adds provisions which allow the state to step to a family situation  where children have been forced to suffer unduly for a certain period (three years has been quoted by an  Irish Times article) and make decisions regarding adoption. Even then the children, who are old enough, have a say in their future.

There have been certain cases (not just in Ireland mind you) where children have been forced to suffer physical, mental, and emotional torture or trauma under the umbrella of the family. If this amendment can pull such children out of the cruel and demented hands of such parents, as I said, yes, I agree with the proposed amendment.

So I wanted to know what the ‘No’ campaigners were saying.

It is for this reason that I have had to endure the (mostly) nonsensical televised discussions and debates over the last few weeks. I heard people screeching about the ‘rights of the family’ being eroded. If you read the other articles which deal with the right’s of the family (all in the same part of the Constitution) you will see that none of the rights of the family are being touched. Courts are not going to start tearing families apart because their child catches a cold.

Another ‘No’ campaigner, an elderly priest, likened the amendment to pouring a mug of slurry into a vat of milk while spouting the same argument outlined  above.

The TV3 debate saw ‘No’ campaigners misrepresenting others to back up their arguments, these misrepresentation were revealed by email in the following programme.

If these ‘No’ campaigners are as mad as a coffee table in a bouncy castle why were they even given a voice?

Inside  me there is a conspiracy theorist who is dying to get out. I can usually reason with it until it retreats back and continues investigating the moon landings for its own amusement. But it made me think that if there had not been an ‘informed’ debate would people have been as interested to give up part of their Saturday 10th November and make the effort to vote.

Is the ‘No’ campaign an artificially constructed boost for the ‘Yes’ campaign?

The only solid argument I heard for voting ‘No’ was that the changes did not go far enough. These arguments encourage voters to use their ‘No’ vote to make sure that we can protect our children further in a future referendum.

I believe that if  we vote ‘No’ and wait for these further changes to be drawn up we risk more children living under the thumb of sadistic parenting as we have seen revealed in the not so distant past.

The Irish Constitution 1937

Irish Times Article Friday 2 November 2012

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4 responses to “The Children’s Referendum – A Mockery of Public Debate?

  1. Personally I think people should have to pass a psychological screening before they’re allowed to breed. It would fix so many problems.

    • Yes, we have dog, TV, Car (and motorcycle) licences etc. but not one for bringing a whole new life into this world. Though getting that past the imprescriptible rights of people may be a little difficult 🙂

  2. It’s sad but whenever I hear a priest advocating the same thing as professional ‘nay’ sayers like John Waters my gut reaction is to vote blindly against anything they are for. Throw in the usual crew of right wing god botherers, a few pro lifers and it’s almost a shut case. So I read the amendment and decided that for once my gut reaction was correct. Good article Ben.

    • Not sad at all, it is a direct reflection of how the Church have turned themselves from positions of authority to figures of ridicule in just a generation or two. Thanks for the comment:-)

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