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Dublin: 7 °C Thursday 21 November, 2019
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Cabinet set to agree wording on children's rights referendum

Ministers are likely to sign off on the final wording for the ballot to be put to the public at this morning’s meeting.

Frances Fitzgerald is likely to present the wording of the children's rights referendum to interest groups after it is agreed today.
Frances Fitzgerald is likely to present the wording of the children's rights referendum to interest groups after it is agreed today.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

A YEARS-LONG campaign to insert a constitutional clause safeguarding the rights of the child set to be agreed by ministers at this morning’s cabinet meeting, ahead of a referendum later this year.

The wording of the new clause, which has been under consideration for several years, will be presented to the cabinet by children’s minister Frances Fitzgerald.

The agreement of cabinet means the legislation which triggers the holding of the referendum can be tabled in the Dáil – years after a previous wording was agreed upon by an all-party Oireachtas committee, only to be held up over legal concerns.

That may not happen for some time, however, as the government may first seek to meet with interest groups and explain the wording with them – hoping to deal with any concerns that those groups may have about the potential impact of the choice of words.

This follows concerns among some groups in the last few weeks that the wording could result in the state gaining the power to strip parents of their children or enforce vaccinations for children against their parents’ will.

The referendum on children’s rights would be the fourth held in the lifetime of the current government, after last year’s ballot on Oireachtas inquiries and judicial pay, and this year’s vote on ratifying the European fiscal compact treaty.

Read: Children’s minister plays down referendum ‘forced vaccination’ fears

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Gavan Reilly

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