Our Constitution is the foundation for all the State’s laws and policies. However, it does not provide an express statement of rights for children.
The Government is bringing forward this Referendum to give the Irish People the opportunity to change this. This Referendum will give people the option of updating the Constitution to reflect our shared value in relation to ensuring the protection of all our children. The proposed Amendment is intended to give firmer recognition to the rights of children under the Constitution and to affirm the State’s obligation, as far as practicable, to protect those rights.
There have been seventeen major reports on child protection failings in Ireland since 1970. The Government now has a Programme for Change for Children and is bringing in new laws on the reporting of child abuse and safer practices for organisations, where children spend time, and is also reforming Ireland’s child protection services by transferring them from the HSE and establishing a dedicated new Child and Family Support Agency.
These reforms focus on intervention to ensure the safety and welfare of children is protected and to ensure that child protection services can respond appropriately to all child protection concerns.
Passing this Referendum will put children’s needs at the centre of decision-making and will facilitate changes to adoption legislation.