Monday, December 04, 2006

'Huge support' for children's referendum

The public has shown overwhelming support for the planned referendum to enshrine the rights of children in the Constitution, according to the findings of the Irish TimesTNS Mrbi opinion poll.

Respondents were asked, in the light of the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's announcement of the referendum, if they believed the Constitution should be altered to improve the rights of children.

A 68 per cent majority said yes to the proposal to change the Constitution, 16 per cent said no, and 16 per cent had no opinion.

All age groups, social classes and political parties showed strong support for the motion, but women were marginally more in favour of the plan than men.

The over-65s were less enthusiastic than other age groups about the proposal, while there was strong support came from people in the 18-34 age group. In terms of social class, farmers were less enthusiastic than other categories but were still strongly in support.

Minister for Children Brian Lenihan is consulting the various groups involved in childcare and the other political parties in an effort to get an agreed wording for the proposed constitutional change.

That consultation process is due to be completed in the next few weeks, and a referendum is likely to be held in March if there is broad agreement on a wording.

It is likely to be held in tandem with the issue of statutory rape.

The Oireachtas Committee on Child Protection recommended last Thursday that the Constitution be changed in the light of the Supreme Court decision to allow the defence of "honest mistake" in rape cases involving a victim under 16.

Source: The Irish Times

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