Minister denies Government did not put enough work into referendums

Minister Denies Government Did Not Put Enough Work Into Referendums
Pippa Hackett rejected accusations that the Government did not give enough information to the public about the referendums. Photo: PA
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By Cate McCurry, PA

A junior minister has denied accusations the Government did not give enough information to the public about the failed referendums.  describing it as a “complex issue”.

Junior Minister Pippa Hackett said there were many reasons why the referendums campaign failed.


The Government’s proposals on family and care votes were overwhelmingly rejected as the electorate voted against changing the Constitution.

The family vote lost 67.7 per cent to 32.3 per cent, while the care vote lost 73.9 per cent to 26.1 per cent.

The care vote is the highest ‘no’ vote in the history of the state’s referenda.

Irish constitution referenda
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar conceded early that the Government had lost the referendums vote (Damien Storan/PA)

The Government conceded early in the count on Saturday that it had lost the vote.

Ms Hackett told RTÉ’s The Week In Politics show on Sunday: “It is a failure on behalf of the wider yes campaign group. The Government is front row in that. We failed to articulate to the electorate why they should vote yes and yes in the referendum.”

She rejected accusations that not enough work was put into the referendums campaign and that the Government ignored the suggested referendums wording put forward by the Citizens Assembly.


“I refute that in the sense that this has been a question to be asked for at least 30 years,” she added.

“The joint Oireachtas committee on Gender Equality amended some of the recommendations from the Citizens Assembly, then they put forward their recommendations. There were three Sinn Féin members on that committee. So I mean, this was a consent.”

She added: “I think it’s a complex issue, and I think there were many reasons why people voted no, it wasn’t a singular point. I think maybe yes, I think we did get that wrong. We did maybe get the language wrong in the sense.”

Sinn Féin TD Claire Kerrane said her party “called it wrong”.


Post Cabinet press conference
Minister of State Pippa Hackett said there were many reasons why the campaign failed but conceded that they did ‘maybe get the language wrong’

The Roscommon and Galway TD was also critical of the Government’s process in pushing the referenda through the Dáil.

She told the same show: “The Government chose the wording, it was their referendum. They chose not to allow pre-legislative scrutiny which we sought. They also chose to guillotine the bill.


“It wasn’t a Sinn Féin referendum. It was a government referendum. To be perfectly honest, it was very rushed as well. I don’t see why pre-legislative scrutiny wasn’t allowed in relation to this bill.

“But I hope one positive message comes out of all of this. I think the Irish people have been clear in relation to the very lack of support that is there for disabled people, our citizens and for family carers.”

“I hope the one good thing that will come out of this will be that we will see action now for those citizens because at the end of the day if you ask a lone parent, a family carer or a disabled person tomorrow, ‘what do you need from government’, none of them would say we want words change in the Constitution.

“They want proper income support.”


While all the opposition parties backed a yes-yes vote, many of them, including Sinn Féin, Labour and Social Democrats, said they would have preferred different wording, particularly in the care referendum.

Only Peadar Toibin’s party, Aontu, supported a no-no vote.

Independent TD Michael McNamara, who was one of a few TDs in the Dáil who called for a no-no vote in the referendum, said it casts a “dim light” on how the parliament operates.

“We’ve all these referenda about our Constitution, but arguably the Dáil does not fulfil the role assigned to it in our Constitution,” he added.

“Michael Collins, myself and others tried to call a vote on the wording of this, and we didn’t have the numbers to even get a vote. You need 10 people to stand in their place to call a vote. We didn’t even have that.

“Sinn Féin didn’t support, not necessarily support how we would have voted, but the right to have a vote on this. It was guillotined, that’s something the Government used their majority to do.

“The control that the Government exercises over the Dáil is unusual compared to any other country in Europe.”

The family amendment proposed extending the meaning of family beyond one defined by marriage and to include those based on “durable” relationships.

The care amendment proposed deleting references to a woman’s roles and duties in the home and replacing them with a new article that acknowledges family carers.

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