Refcom Logo

HomeseparatorPast ReferendumsseparatorThe Children Referendum

The Children Referendum

ChildrenWebsiteA referendum on a proposal to amend the Constitution by the addition of a new article 42A and the deletion of article 42.5 was held on 10 November 2012. There were four main elements to the proposal.

Firstly, if it was approved, the Constitution would explicitly recognise that children have rights, and that the State is obliged as far as practicable by its laws to protect and vindicate those rights.

Secondly, it would make some changes to the existing constitutional provision in relation to State intervention in exceptional cases where parents fail in their duty to a child.

Thirdly it would mean that the state must legislate to permit adoption including by voluntary placement of any child, whether or not the parents are married. It would also require the law to allow adoption of any child where the parents have failed, for a time to be specified in law, in their duty towards the child, and where adoption is in the best interests of the child.

Finally it would oblige the State to pass laws requiring the courts to consider the best interests of the child as paramount, when making decisions in certain proceedings relating to a child's safety or welfare, adoption, guardianship, custody of, or access to a child. It would also mean the State must pass laws requiring the courts where practicable to ascertain and take into account the views of a child having regard to his or her age and maturity prior to taking such decisions.

The proposal was approved by the people. For further information about the votes cast, see -
The Referendum Commission is preparing its report on the performance of its functions in respect of the referendum which will be presented to the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government.


The Referendum Commission developed a dedicated website for the Children Referendum.

List of Approved Bodies

This list of approved bodies for the purpose of the Children Referendum is available in PDF format only.

List of approved bodies.pdf (size 91.5 KB)

Market Research

Each Referendum Commission conducts market research after polling day to measure the effectiveness of the various elements of its campaign and to gain understanding of the reasons people did not vote.

The Commission's role is to raise awareness of the referendum, to explain the referendum proposal and encourage voter turnout. The objective of the research is to assist future Commissions to plan a campaign that will be most effective in fulfilling its role.

The research after the Children referendum was carried out on the Commission's behalf by the independent polling company Behaviour and Attitudes. Their reports of the research are published here.


You can read the report of the commission online.