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Friday 26 May 2017

Judge criticises No campaign

Nicola Anderson and Tim Healy

A retired Supreme Court judge has claimed the No side in the Children's Referendum is represented by people who either have "personal axes to grind" or are "right-wing traditional Catholics".

Children's rights campaigner and former Supreme Court Judge Catherine McGuinness said "very misleading and exaggerated accusations" have been put forward by the No campaign, including the prospect of forced adoption or forced vaccination -- which is "impossible" under Irish law.

Ms McGuinness, who wrote the landmark Kilkenny Incest report, was amongst the first to call for a referendum.

She made the remarks as the Supreme Court finished hearing an appeal involving an engineer who is challenging the Government's €1.1m spend on the children's referendum information campaign.

Mark McCrystal, Kilbarrack Road, Dublin, claims the Government's information campaign breached the 1995 Supreme Court judgment on the McKenna case requiring referenda to be explained to the public impartially.

During the two-day appeal, lawyers for the State argued that the material does not breach the McKenna judgment in a manner that would render the Government's spend unconstitutional.

It is not clear what the Government would do if Mr McCrystal succeeded.

As patron of the Irish Foster Care Association, Ms McGuinness was speaking at a press conference in Dublin yesterday ahead of Saturday's referendum.


She warned that she would never be complacent that the referendum would be comfortably carried, saying people could "shrug their shoulders" and opt for a "duvet day" rather than going out to vote.

Chairman of the association, Diarmuid Kearney, said much had been made of the legal and technical implications of the proposed amendment, but it was the "human impact" that counted most.

"The very real difference it will make to the lives of children -- that really matters," he said.

Meanwhile, foster parents angrily dismissed suggestions by prominent No vote campaigner, John Waters, that money was a motivation that prompted them to care for children.

Ms McGuinness said that in her own personal experience, the idea that foster parents were doing it for the money was "extraordinary". "It's kind of hard to believe that anyone would suggest that," she said.

Irish Independent

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