Referendum on Children’s Rights must come in advance of new legislation

There needs to be clarification on a development in regard to legislation referred to in the newspapers today, which I have not heard previously mentioned in these Houses that, apparently, the Government intends to introduce legislation to alter the legal environment for the placing for adoption of the children of married parents.  We know the children of married parents can only be adopted in very restricted circumstances because of our laws and the interpretation of them.  It is one of the issues that is at the heart of children’s rights, the proposal for a referendum to amend the Constitution, the so-called children’s rights referendum. 

One of the things that will have to be done to facilitate the introduction of the legislation, to which the Minister of State, Deputy Andrews, referred in the newspapers today, and which I would welcome, would be that the children’s rights referendum would have to be brought forward, put to the people and passed.  That is important.  Can we take this indication by the Minister of State in this morning’s newspapers of an intention to bring forward this legislation, as an indication that the Government now clearly intends to hold a children’s rights referendum this autumn since the holding of such a referendum would be a necessary precursor to the introduction of legislation of this kind?