Cllr Sarah O’Reilly, Aontú.

‘Please do not run these referenda again’

‘The outcome of the referenda demonstrates a rejection of deeply flawed amendments on family and care, both of which were deeply insulting to the electorate’.

That’s according to Aontú’s Cllr Sarah O’Reilly who spoke at the March meeting of Cavan County Council.

She said the Government had “squandered a valuable opportunity” for this generation to update the language of the Constitution and “to include rather than take out”. She also pointed to how the Government had “squandered the opportunity to strengthen the rights of parents, children, older people and people with disabilities”.

The proposed amendments, she added, provided no meaningful rights or supports, but instead would have injected vague ambiguity with unknown consequences into the Constitution.

“The people of our country recognised this and they voted overwhelmingly against it,” Cllr O’Reilly continued.

“It is no exaggeration to say that the results show that the major political parties in this country, together with an opposition, who played a huge support role, are extremely out of touch with the electorate. Aontú, critically assessed the proposals with our grassroots membership and actively campaigned for what we believe in, armed with the facts and we asked questions that the public wanted answers to.”

Cllr O’Reilly went on to say that the result indicates “a lack of trust in the Government and a huge disconnect between the political establishment and the people”.

“The Government’s family amendment was appallingly poor,” she added.

“It now appears that Minister Roderic O’Gorman received advice that there was no certainty on the court’s interpretation of durable relationships. Aontú will fight tooth and nail for transparency and accountability from this Minister,” said Cllr O’Reilly.

“Aontú takes serious issue with a Government not informing the public honestly of knock-on ramifications to a vote and questions must now also be asked of the NGO sector. Their allegiances should lie with those they are tasked to represent,” she said.

“The Government spent €23M of taxpayers money on the referenda. It now needs to stop with the culture wars and start fixing our broken systems; reform of the carers allowance should be on the priority list now and the work of real, tangible support for our citizens.”

Cllr Shane P O’Reilly (Ind) called for Minister Roderic O’Gorman’s resignation because of the “solo run” he went on.

Cllr O’Reilly also pointed to the role of the NGO sector, which he added, “is a €6bn industry”.

“This sector represents nobody but themselves,” he continued before adding that the €23M spent on the referenda campaign “could have been put to much better use”.

“Minister O’Gorman needs to resign his position so that this Government can get back some semblance of dignity in the aftermath of all this. It’s a serious indictment of this Government and how out of touch it is with the views of the electorate. And, the fact that the Minister kept the advice from the Attorney General (AG) from the people of this country absolutely beggars belief.”

Cllr TP O’Reilly (FG) reverted to the old adage ‘if something isn’t broken, why fix it?’ when he joined the discussion.

“I think the lesson that the Government needs to learn from all this is that it must provide the supports the electorate needs,” he said.

In conclusion, Cllr Brendan Fay added: “The NGOs and especially the National Women’s Council (NWCI) have serious questions to answer now. The People have spoken, it’s time to move on and please do not run these referenda again.”