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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 7 Feb 1979

Vol. 311 No. 4

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Constitutional Referenda.


asked the Taoiseach whether the Government have any other proposals for constitutional referenda to put to the electorate on 7 June 1979.

The Government have not yet decided to hold any referendum in conjunction with the European Assembly and local elections on 7 June 1979.

Does that imply that the adoption referendum may not be held on that date?

It does, yes.

Are the other matters that have been mentioned in this connection still under consideration, those relating to the NUI and the question of bail?

I did suggest publicly that the adoption referendum might be held in conjunction with these two elections. The Government have not taken a decision on it but we have consulted with the returning officers of the four Euro-constituencies and we are still considering their opinions, our main concern being to avoid any confusion and, having regard to my own experience at election time—and I have some experience at both ends, the official and the public end—I would have some concern about what confusion might be caused if we had all three issues on the same day, particularly having regard to the fact that in some local areas there would be two ballot papers, one for county councils and one for urban councils or commissioners. It is purely from that point of view that we are considering the matter.

Secondly, as far as the other two issues are concerned, the bail issue and the NUI and Seanad representations, we have not yet, as the Deputy is aware, enacted the necessary legislation but it would be our hope to have these three referenda together if that were necessary and possible but, above all, to have the referendum on adoption at the earliest possible date.

Would the Taoiseach accept that there is a degree of urgency about the NUI referendum in view of the expressed policy of the Government in relation to the need to give independence to the colleges?

We cannot widen the scope of questions.

I can say that the only urgency that arises in the case of the NUI is in connection with the next general election, so that urgency is not as imminent as the Deputy would seem to suggest.

Is it the Government's intention to hold the referendum in respect of the adoption situation before or after 7 June?

Here again the Government and I have open minds but realising the urgency of the adoption referendum we would certainly like to see it held as soon as possible. As the Deputy is aware, the legislation is only before the Dáil at present and so many facts will have to be taken into account.

Could I take it that when the Taoiseach mentioned the difficulties of various papers, there is no truth in some of the rumours circulating that the Government are contemplating postponing the local elections?

If rumours are rumours there is usually no truth in them.

I remember a few that were true.

We have no intention of postponing the local elections from 7 June if that is what the Deputy means.


Does the Taoiseach recall that about ten years ago a committee which was chaired by the then Attorney General published a report containing recommendations in regard to mostly technical amendments which they thought advisable in the Constitution? Is that report still under consideration by the Government? If not, would the Taoiseach take another look at it and see whether some of these non-contentious but technically desirable amendments might be incorporated in the forthcoming Constitution referendum?

We are getting into another matter. The question relates to 7 June.

I did not hear what the Taoiseach said.

I did not want to interrupt the Ceann Comhairle. I said the Deputy's question seemed to be outside the scope of the current question but I shall certainly look into the matter.