Referendum to go ahead tomorrow despite Supreme Court ruling

Frances Fitzgerald

The Government has insisted that tomorrow's Children's Rights Referendum will go ahead despite yesterday's Supreme Court ruling.

The court ruled that the information campaign run by the Government - in booklets and on its website - was one-sided, in favour of the Yes campaign, prompting some calls for tomorrow's vote to be postponed.

Speaking at an emergency Seanad debate last night, the Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald said that the Government had acted in good faith when putting together the referendum material.

"The provision of public information by the government has at all times been undertaken in good faith, based upon the prevailing view as to what was permitted by the McKenna judgement," she said.

"Minister Fitzgerald said the Government's information website on the Children's referendum has now been changed in response to the ruling," she said.

"The Government, of course, fully respects today's Supreme Court ruling and is complying fully with it.

"We moved immediately to act to the ruling, in terms of the distribution and publication of material."

A group of five Independent TDs says it should be postponed for a few months.

One of those TDs, Shane Ross, said that this referendum is now tainted and should be deferred.

"It's absolutely imperative that this referendum is passed, it's also imperative that it's seen to be fair to both sides, and that Irish democracy is working fairly," he said.

"If the Government seem to be abusing its position, all future referendums are therefor compromised as well."

With just a day to go until the Children's Referendum, campaigners for both the Yes and No sides will be out canvassing today in a last-ditch attempt to sway voters.

A broadcast moratorium on material relating to the referendum takes effect at 2pm this afternoon.

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