Cowen dismisses Coughlan's plan for referendum
TANAISTE Mary Coughlan was left embarrassed yesterday after Taoiseach Brian Cowen publicly shot down her proposal to hold a "standalone" children's rights referendum.
Earlier this week Ms Coughlan insisted the issue was too serious to be voted on alongside three outstanding by-elections.
But yesterday Mr Cowen said while Ms Coughlan had given her views on the matter, the Government had yet to make a final decision.
The comments come amid mounting fears that the referendum will not be held this year. After an all-party agreement on the wording of an amendment to the Constitution it had been expected a referendum would be held in 2010.
But the coalition has so far refused to set a date for holding the vote, which was promised by former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern as far back as 2007.
In February the final report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Child Protection proposed that a new Article 42 would be inserted into the Constitution.
But a referendum on children's rights would force the Government to pencil in three by-elections -- in Donegal West, Waterford and Dublin South -- as well as the Dublin mayoral election at a time when Fianna Fail and the Greens are dipping in the polls.