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Thursday 28 August 2014

Raft of constitutional issues still to be put to the people

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

Published 12/11/2012 | 05:00

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THE Government has a potential raft of referendum votes coming down the track.

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The abolition of the Seanad is currently the next referendum on the agenda -- for now.

The think tank to examine the Constitution is due to get under way next month, with a number of issues potentially in line for a change.

Among the first items to be examined by the Constitutional Convention are the voting age and the length of presidential terms of office. However, Taoiseach Enda Kenny is not committing to holding a referendum on every measure recommended by the convention.

The Government is likely to put a batch of these smaller questions to the electorate in a single constitutional referendum day in the coming years.

Down the line, the convention is expected to examine more contentious issues such as gay marriage, which will provoke more debate. But the overhaul of the Constitution promised by Fine Gael and the Labour Party before the general election isn't going to materialise.

Mr Kenny pledged last year to hold the Seanad referendum in 2012, but that was before the need to hold the EU fiscal treaty referendum came along.

Mr Kenny is now talking about holding it next year, but there won't be any referendum in the first half of the year, due to Ireland's EU presidency.

Abortion

Campaigners on either side of the abortion debate believe there will be another referendum on the substantive issue in the lifetime of this Government. But there is no real sign yet from the Coalition of this happening.

At the moment there is no further EU referendum on the horizon, but this could change.

Germany wants tougher fiscal rules put in place, which it is thought would require amendments to the EU treaties, most likely requiring a referendum for ratification in Ireland. But German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said during a visit to Dublin a fortnight ago that the changes he envisages can be done within existing treaties.

Irish Independent

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