“The state should not have to wait for a near death situation before it can intervene” when it comes to the safety of a child, according to constitutional law lecturer and Green Party member, Roderic O’Gorman.
O’Gorman was speaking at a public meeting organised by Labour DCU and DCU Young Fine Gael on the upcoming Children’s Referendum on Saturday, November 10th. O’Gorman spoke about the changes a yes vote in the referendum would have on our Constitution.
Currently, under Article 41 of the Constitution, the state gives special protection to families with married parents. This means families with unmarried parents and single mothers have less rights than a family with married parents, while single fathers have even less rights. The Constitution also states that the state will only intervene in a married family in extreme cases.
If the referendum is passed, the Constitution will be amended so that all parents will be treated equally regardless of their martial status and if required, the state will intervene to protect children.
Changes will also be made to the provisions of adoption if there is a yes vote, which will allow children of married parents to be adopted. Barry Fitzgerald, who works in the area of children’s rights, also spoke at the meeting and said the proposed adoption amendments are “practical and reasonable”.
The state will also officially recognise the rights of children and will protect those rights under the new amendments if the referendum is passed.
Speaking at the meeting, Labour TD, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin disagreed the referendum would give “adult rights” to “mini adults”. He argued “children are human beings with human rights”.
Ó Ríordáin said the referendum will give the next generation the opportunity to change. He pointed out the referendum is not just a “box ticking exercise”.
He urged students to vote yes to enshrine the rights of children in the referendum and ensure future governments protect those rights.
The Labour TD also expressed concern that the referendum is being held on a Saturday because it’s “outside people’s normal routine”.
All three speakers encouraged students to vote yes in the referendum. Both Labour DCU and DCU YFG are calling for a yes vote in the referendum, therefore there was no speaker to represent the no side.
Image Credit: Viktorija Drozdova