Irish Referendum: State's Responsiblity for Children To Trump Parents'

By Grégor Puppinck

CORK, IRELAND, November 5, 2012 (Zenit) On November 10th 2012, Irish citizens will vote on a referendum aimed at amending the Constitution in regard to the role of the State towards children. The implications of the wording of the amendment are subtle and difficult to perceive for a non-expert. Though the change in the proposed wording can be seen as minor, its effects are potentially considerable. It is nothing less than a philosophical shift on the understanding of the society: whereas the State or the Family is the primary protector of children.

There are many legal uncertainties about the possible applications and consequences of the amendment. The Yes side is adamant that it is needed to protect children, the No side argue that it is going too far in giving power to the State. This reflection attempts to bring some light on the definite change in philosophy that the people are being asked to make in relation to family, children, and the state. Important questions of child abuse, neglect, rights of unmarried fathers, status of children of unmarried parents, status of the family and of marriage, all critical to the Irish social fabric, are going to be decided in accordance with one or the other philosophical context, depending on the choice made by the people on November 10.

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