Referendum Commission Chairperson urges all citizens to vote
Ms Justice Tara Burns addresses students at Dublin Adult Learning Centre
Tuesday 14 May: The Chairperson of the Referendum Commission Ms Justice Tara Burns has urged all voters to ensure their voice is heard in the referendum on May 24th next.
Speaking today at the Dublin Adult Learning Centre in Mountjoy Square she said: “The Constitution belongs to the people of Ireland and can be changed only by them and not by Government, politicians or courts. However only those who actually vote end up having a say. Cohorts of voters who typically have a low turnout therefore effectively give others a greater say in the basic law of this country.”
She was speaking in the Dublin Central constituency which regularly has the lowest voter turnout in the State in referendums. For example in the last referendum (October 2018 on Blasphemy) 31.8% of those registered in Dublin Central turned out to vote compared to a national turnout of 43.8%. In the previous referendum (May 2018 on the termination of pregnancy) 51.5% turned out in Dublin Central compared to 64.1% nationally.
“This is your Constitution as much as it is anyone else’s”, she told the students. “But if you don’t vote, you are allowing others make important decisions for you.”
Welcoming Ms Justice Burns the Director of the DALC Ms Mary Maher said: “We are delighted the Referendum Commission has come to see us to give this important message. A central part of adult education is about encouraging civic participation and active citizenship, and casting your vote is a central part of participating in society.”
Ma Justice Burns said the referendum is about the regulation of divorce. “The proposal to change the Constitution has two parts. The first part of the proposal is to remove from the Constitution the requirement that a couple be living apart for 4 out of the previous 5 years before they can apply for a divorce. If the proposal is passed, it will mean that the Oireachtas can legislate about this issue in the future.
“The second part of the proposal relates to foreign divorces. A provision of the Constitution states that a person who has obtained a foreign divorce abroad which is not recognised in the State cannot remarry. The proposal is to remove this provision of the Constitution and replace it with a provision which explicitly states that the Oireachtas can legislate to recognise foreign divorces.”