The Workers’ Party have welcomed the majority Yes vote in last weekend’s Children’s Referendum, stating that the need for the constitutional amendment had been first highlighted over three decades ago.
Workers’ Party president Michael Finnegan said that despite the low turnout, there had been a clear majority in favour of the referendum and it was now up to the government to put in place the long promised legislation on children’s rights.
Mr Finnegan said that it would be wrong of the government and commentators to interpret the low turnout to justify an attack on the McKenna judgement saying that the government and the main parties had only themselves to blame for the poor turnout.
“The government ran a very low key campaign in which they failed to engage in the debate and assumed wrongly that their proposal would be passed by acclamation. When they did speak it was in tones of arrogance and petulance which did no favours to the Yes campaign and the performance of Justice Minister Alan Shatter was particularly abrasive.
“As in previous referendums where there was a poor turnout there has been an attempt to read particular meanings into the low participation. Already there has been an attempt to blame Saturday voting and the Supreme Court’s ruling and indeed there have been suggestions in some quarters that in future referendums should be avoided completely because the people are not doing as they are told. This is not only insulting , but dangerous to democracy”, said Mr Finnegan
Mr Finnegan added that: “The most immediate test of the government's commitment to children will be Budget 2013, due in three weeks time. It will be beyond hypocritical if the government, having secured passage of this referendum, now returns to its slash and burn policies with regard to child care, educational provision, and the provision of health and welfare frontline services.
“Existing government policies, which in many instances mean that parents cannot put adequate food on the table, are putting incredible pressure on vulnerable parents, communities, and already overstretched services. If the state, through Budget 2013, ensures that more children can have a decent life with one or both of their natural parents, then expensive and last-ditch interventions like long-term care can be minimised” concluded Mr Finnegan.