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Dublin: 10 °C Saturday 29 November, 2014

Gilmore: Children’s Referendum “never really took fire”

Meanwhile, Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald defended her role in leading the referendum campaign.

Tanaiste and Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore
Tanaiste and Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

TÁNAISTE EAMON GILMORE has spoken of the disappointment at the turnout for the Children’s Referendum yesterday, which was believed to be just over 30 per cent.

The provisional results show that the referendum passed. The Yes vote was 58 per cent, while 42 per cent of people went for No.

Eamon Gilmore told Paddy Gorman on RTÉ radio’s This Week programme that the government was “disappointed at the turnout”. “We were conscious that that was something that was relatively new,” he said of Saturday voting, and that the government may have to look at it again.

It may well be that people’s voting pattern works better with their working pattern than it does with the routine families have on a Saturday.

He added:

I think probably it was a referendum that never really took fire in terms of debate about it. We didn’t have the same intensity of debate about this referendum that we saw for example on the stability treaty referendum or some other referenda on social issues before.

“I think that may have resulted in people feeling it was going to pass anyway, that perhaps they weren’t as motivated in going to vote for it,” he said. “There seemed to be a lot of talk in the ether that it was a foregone conclusion right through the campaign because there was very little opposition to it.”

Children’s Minister

Meanwhile, Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald defended her work on the campaign, telling RTÉ’s This Week that she would have been happier if more people had turned out but at the end of the day that is for people to decide

She said there is a bigger issue there in terms of turnout for referenda. Minister Fitzgerald said that because it was a “rare moment of political consensus”, it effectively meant that from the beginning there was very little coverage of the topic.

She said she did not accept that if last week’s Supreme Court ruling had happened sooner, it could have derailed the referendum campaign. Minister Fitzgerald said that what guided her and her team was that they “wanted to inform and clarify” the issues around the referendum. She accepted her responsibility, but the intention at all times was to comply with the McKenna judgement.

The latest results show that the turnout was just above 30 per cent.

The full counts are available on our liveblog and show that most counties saw a very tight count, with a small margin of just 137 votes in Dublin North West, for example.

LIVEBLOG: The Children’s Referendum count>

Read: Referendum on children’s rights passed>

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