The decision to hold the Children’s Referendum on a Saturday has been welcomed by local representatives, who feel it will give Mayo students the chance to vote without missing college.
The referendum will take place on Saturday, November 10. It is the second referendum to be held on a Saturday; the first was the second vote on the Nice Treaty in 2002.
The decision has been welcomed by Fine Gael TD, John O’Mahony, and Castlebar Town Councillor Harry Barrett (Labour).
Deputy O’Mahony said that he had received representations from Young Fine Gael, students and many other young people in relation to the issue. and he said that they raised some valid points.
“While we were in opposition. we campaigned for weekend elections to allow our young people participate. If someone from Mayo is attending college in Dublin, Cork or Waterford and an election is held on a Thursday, it is practically impossible for them to cast their vote. In effect, the system is denying those students, and indeed all those people who work away from home for one reason or another, their democratic right,” he said.
Cllr Barrett added; “It’s important that we demonstrate how serious we are about this very important issue [children’s rights], and one way to do that is by enabling those still so close to childhood themselves to return to their home polling stations to vote. It’s vital that we hear the voices of college goers and those in the 18 to 22 age group. One way to facilitate this is to hold the referendum on a Saturday to ensure their fullest participation on this issue.”
Deputy O’Mahony echoed Cllr Barrett’s sentiment, adding that the forthcoming referendum offered the Government an ideal platform for inclusivity.
The change in the constitution proposes one new Article with four subsections, which affirms the rights of the child and allows the State, in exceptional circumstances, to take the place of parents. It also provides for the legal adoption of children where parents have failed in their duty.
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