The Children’s Rights Referendum

It has been many years in the making, but the Children’s Rights Referendum is finally going ahead on November 10th. Text out and everything.

It will be interesting to see how the debate goes over this amendment, how the No side seeks to attack, how the Yes side responds. I’ll have analysis and declaration of my own final opinion (as I have before, and before again) sometime in the next month. I suppose it would not be too wrong to say that I am currently leaning Yes, but still have some concerns that I’d like to read more on or hear more about.

In terms of political manoeuvring, it seems like “CCRef”, as Twitter has dubbed it, will be getting cross-party support. The government coalition will certainly support, Fianna Fail look like they have no objections, and the same goes for Sinn Fein. It’s doubtful that the opposition will be doing a whole load of work to get the thing passed, but it doesn’t really matter as long as they don’t oppose it. No opposition party is willing to take the big risk and head the No campaign, as the likelihood of achieving a success is so low.

This is probably going to be framed, much like the amendment on Judges Pay last year, as a “common sense” referendum, one that is “fixing” an error in the constitution. It’s hard to fight against that kind of thing. The No side, I believe, are going to be ones caught explaining things this time around, while the government parties stick to simple messages like:

-We want to be better able to protect children in abusive environment.

-We want kids in the foster system to have a chance at a second home.

Those are the kind of points that will be hammered home over and over again. It doesn’t matter if the issue is more complicated; in my observation those who are able to frame their side of the debate in the simplest terms tend to have a distinct advantage.

One of the main points of the No side, which is likely to be limited to a smattering of different small-scale groupings, will probably be: “This gives the state too much power!”, which is a go-too argument for many people who oppose amendments to the constitution. But the No side will have to explain how exactly this gives the state more power than it should have, and will have to do so without the financial backing that the Yes side is abide to put together.

Worse still, a vote on a Saturday may offset the dangers of a low turnout during a working day on an issue some may have little regard for. This is the kind of vote where low numbers are good for the No side, so that was a smart move by the government.

As of right now, I feel this may simply be a case of getting enough people to vote and determining the scale of the “Yes” victory. The coalition has learned from their constitutional debacle last year over Oireachtas committees and will not treat this one in as blasé a fashion as they did for that (to their cost). I would be incredibly surprised of the 31st Amendment to the Irish constitution is not ratified.

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