Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Department of Health
Willie O'Dea (Limerick City, Fianna Fail)
Question 74: To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the structures she is putting in place to consult opposition parties on the children’s referendum; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8115/12]
Frances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Children; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
The Programme for Government 2011 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). From the outset of deliberations in relation to the constitutional amendment on children’s rights the need for all party consensus on this topic was highlighted. As a member of the JCCAC I can attest to the level of all party co-operation afforded the then Government in the work of the Committee.
Since taking office, both myself and officials of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs have had a very considerable number of meetings and communications with the Attorney General and her officials to progress this commitment. A draft wording is being prepared by the Office of the Attorney General in co-operation with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, and there is on-going contact and meetings between officials of the Department and of the AG’s office focusing on ensuring that the proposed Referendum reflects the deliberations and conclusions of the Joint Committee and the commitment in the Programme for Government.
It is my intention to consult with parties by way of briefings as the output of the deliberations which are currently underway emerges. I also envisage that the issue will be dealt with in the Joint Committee on Health Children and Youth Affairs. It is my intention to seek approval from Government for the proposed wording, with a view to holding the referendum this year.