Holly Cairns new

Today’s referendum result is a direct consequence of a rushed and confused campaign by the Government, according to Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns.

Deputy Cairns said:

“The defeat of both the family and care referendums is the result of a rushed and confused campaign by the Government.

“The Government delayed publishing the wording of both amendments; refused to accept Opposition amendments; guillotined legislation in the Oireachtas; and, patronisingly, insisted on holding the referendums on International Women’s Day.

“The low voter turnout yesterday, and the resounding ‘no’ result, is due to the Government’s failure to properly engage with the public from the outset of this shambolic referendum campaign.

“The electorate were confused by the wording of the family amendment – and the implications of it on things like succession rights – and unimpressed at the lack of ambition in the care referendum.

“I am disappointed that the family referendum has failed, given it is discriminatory that the Constitution recognises just one form of family – the marital family.

“Issues raised by No campaigners in relation to the lack of clarity on the implications of the change in other areas of law were clearly effective in swaying voters. A lack of clear planning, and definitive responses, from the Government helped to sow this confusion.

“In recent days, a ‘no’ vote on the care amendment was looking increasingly likely – in large part because of the Government’s appalling decision to reject wording overwhelmingly endorsed by the Citizens’ Assembly.

“Inflammatory comments made on television by the Taoiseach – just days before polling – will have done little to convince voters about the State’s commitment to support carers and vindicate the rights of disabled people.

“Many carers and disabled people are tired of receiving nothing more than lip service from successive governments. This record of failure, and absence of trust, lies at the heart of this failed referendum.

“The vote of the electorate must now be respected and there should be careful consideration and analysis of the reasons for their rejection of these amendments.

“In the interim, there is nothing stopping the Government from demonstrating that they can pay more than just lip service to disability rights.

“An obvious, immediate next step is for the Government to ratify the Optional Protocol on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities without any further excuses or delay.”

March 9, 2024

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