Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Questions (18, 19)

John Browne

Question:

28 Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will give a timeline for the publication of enacting legislation for the children’s referendum; when the referendum will take place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33370/12]

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Dessie Ellis

Question:

44 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the date on which she will publish legislation to hold a referendum on children’s rights; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33325/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Children and Youth Affairs)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 28 and 44 together.

The Programme for Government 2011-2016 states that the Referendum on Children's Rights is a priority, and that the wording of the proposed referendum will be along the lines of that proposed by the All Party Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children (JCCAC).

Both myself and officials of my Department have engaged extensively with the Attorney General and her officials to formulate a draft wording for the proposed constitutional amendment. Contact in that regard is ongoing and, as part of normal process, will involve consultations across the relevant departments in advance of presentation of a proposed wording to Government for consideration.

Integral to the passing of the proposed amendment will be a change as regards adoption law in the position of children of marriage and married parents. To ensure that the public are fully informed of the nature of the proposal, and the consequences of approving it, the proposed amending legislation in the area of adoption will be published along with the wording of the amendment. Publication of the Referendum Bill will have regard to the need to allow an appropriate period of time for the proposal to be fully debated and considered.

While the Government has yet to consider the matter of the precise referendum date, it has already decided that it will take place later this year and will be held on a standalone basis. The significant and complex work currently being done is geared towards this timeline and objective.