IRELAND: Statement by Ireland’s Ombudsman for Children on the Publication of the Wording for the Children’s Rights Referendum


[19 September 2012] - The Ombudsman for Children’s Office in Ireland has been calling for stronger protection for children’s rights in the Irish Constitution since the Office was established almost eight years ago. I am pleased that wording for a proposed amendment to the Constitution has been published and that a date has been set for the referendum (10th November 2012). This represents a significant and positive step forward for children and families in Ireland. 

I congratulate the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs for bringing this proposal forward. The Ombudsman for Children’s Office has provided advice on constitutional change to Ministers of Government and to the Oireachtas (Ireland’s parliament) on four separate occasions since its first year of operation. The central message of these submissions has been the same: Ireland should enshrine key children’s rights principles in the Constitution in order to underpin a fundamental shift in our law, policy and practice regarding children.

I am mandated, under Section 7(1)(d)of the Ombudsman for Children Act, 2002, to promote awareness among members of the public of children’s rights and welfare and how these rights can be enforced and I will continue to carry out these functions over the coming weeks.

-- Emily Logan

The Ombudsman for Children’s previous advices to Ministers of Government and the Oireachtas, and comments on children’s rights in the Constitution, are available at:


Text of the proposed amendment to the Constitution

Thirty-First Amendent of the Constitution
Proposed new article 42a

1) The State recognises and affirms the natural and imprescriptible rights of all children and shall, as far as practicable, by its laws protect and vindicate those rights.

2) 1° In exceptional cases, where the parents, regardless of their marital status, fail in their duty towards their children to such extent that the safety or welfare of any of their children is likely to be prejudicially affected, the State as guardian of the common good shall, by proportionate means as provided by law, endeavour to supply the place of the parents, but always with due regard for the natural and imprescriptible rights of the child

2° Provision shall be made by law for the adoption of any child where the parents have failed for such a period of time as may be prescribed by law in their duty towards the child and where the best interests of the child so require.

3) Provision shall be made by law for the voluntary placement for adoption and the adoption of any child.

4) 1.° Provision shall be made by law that in the resolution of all proceedings-

i. brought by the State, as guardian of the common good, for the purpose of preventing the safety and welfare of any child from being prejudicially affected, or

ii. concerning the adoption, guardianship or custody of, or access to, any child, the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration.

2°. Provision shall be made by law for securing, as far as practicable, that in all proceedings referred to in subsection 1° of this section in respect of any child who is capable of forming his or her own views, the views of the child shall be ascertained and given due weight having regard to the age and maturity of the child.


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