A referendum on a proposal to amend the Constitution by the addition of a new article 42A and the deletion of article 42.5 was held on 10 November 2012. There were four main elements to the proposal.
Firstly, if it was approved, the Constitution would explicitly recognise that children have rights, and that the State is obliged as far as practicable by its laws to protect and vindicate those rights.
Secondly, it would make some changes to the existing constitutional provision in relation to State intervention in exceptional cases where parents fail in their duty to a child.
Thirdly it would mean that the state must legislate to permit adoption including by voluntary placement of any child, whether or not the parents are married. It would also require the law to allow adoption of any child where the parents have failed, for a time to be specified in law, in their duty towards the child, and where adoption is in the best interests of the child.
Finally it would oblige the State to pass laws requiring the courts to consider the best interests of the child as paramount, when making decisions in certain proceedings relating to a child’s safety or welfare, adoption, guardianship, custody of, or access to a child. It would also mean the State must pass laws requiring the courts where practicable to ascertain and take into account the views of a child having regard to his or her age and maturity prior to taking such decisions.
The proposal was approved by the people.
You can read the Referendum Commission’s report online or download a PDF copy of the report.