Fianna Fáil is to bring forward a Private Members Bill in the Dáil this evening (Tuesday, 28 June) to run a Referendum on Adoption alongside the Presidential election.  The Bill will allow for the adoption of hundreds of children who are currently in long term care and who cannot be adopted because of rules arising from the current position of the family in the Constitution.

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children Charlie McConalogue TD said: “At the moment there are major barriers to adoption for children who are originally born to married parents. This is due to the strong position awarded to the family in the Constitution, coupled with the fact that there is no Constitutional provision for children to be adopted. The result is that thousands of children spend their entire childhood years in foster care without the right to be adopted into families that are ready, willing and anxious to provide them with the loving and supportive environment they deserve.

“In order for a child to be deemed adoptable under the Adoption Act 1988 the authorities must prove that both parents have effectively abandoned the child and are likely to fail in their duty towards the child until the child reaches the age of 18.  This threshold is extremely difficult to reach, effectively removing the opportunity for a better childhood for many vulnerable children.

“Fianna Fáil is taking this initiative in response to the Fine Gael and Labour u-turn in relation to the Referendum on the Rights of the Child. As recently as early February, Enda Kenny promised to run the Children’s Rights Referendum on the same day as the Presidential Election.  However, he and the new Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald have now abandoned this promise saying there will be no Referendum until ‘sometime next year’.

“Fianna Fáil has and continues to support the need for a wider Referendum to enshrine children’s rights in the Constitution.  However, the issue of adoption rights is not contentious and enjoys widespread support. My question to the Government is this – why would we make a single child in need of a loving home wait at least another year?  This anomaly can be fixed now, our Bill can be accepted tonight without any compromise of any principle on anyone’s behalf.

“Tonight, the Dáil can send a very strong and clear message to these children and the families that want to provide them with the supportive home they deserve. Some issues are too important for politics as usual and this is one of them,” concluded Deputy McConalogue.

Twenty-Ninth Amendment to the Constitution Bill 2011