Written answers

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Department of Children and Youth Affairs

Children's Rights Referendum

Photo of Mattie McGrathMattie McGrath (Tipperary South, Independent)
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37. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if he will support a call for a Dáil Éireann debate on the way his Department managed funds provided by the Oireachtas to run the children's referendum of November 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43972/14]

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Minister, Department of Health; Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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The use of public funds by my Department in connection with the referendum on the thirty-first amendment of the Constitution of November, 2012 has been the subject of a ruling and judgment of the Supreme Court of 8th November and 11th December, 2012, respectively. These arose from proceedings taken by Mark McCrystal against the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, The Government of Ireland and the Attorney General.

The Court granted a declaration to the Plaintiff that the Respondents had acted wrongfully in expending or arranging to expend public moneys on a website, booklet and advertisements in relation to the Referendum, in a manner which was not fair, equal or impartial.

Arising from the Supreme Court ruling, my predecessor as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald, issued a press statement in which she explained that in providing public information the Government had at all times acted in good faith. The Minister stated that she fully respected the decision of the Supreme Court in relation to the expenditure on the public information provided by the Government in advance of the Referendum. She made clear that the Government was now fully compliant with the Court's ruling.

A press statement was issued by the Government in connection with the subsequent Supreme Court judgment. This noted that the Court had found that the Government at all times acted in a bona fidemanner. It stated the Government's commitment to working within the parameters of the judgment delivered by the Court in the conduct of future referendums.

The Deputy will be aware that there are ongoing proceedings before the Supreme Court in relation to the provisional referendum certificate issued in connection with the referendum on the thirty-first amendment of the Constitution in respect of which a hearing is scheduled for early next month, with the judgment of the Court to follow in due course.

I do not support the Deputy's call.

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