Diary of A Canvasser: Children’s Right’s Referendum


So it’s the second Referendum of 2012 and it is one we have been waiting for! While polls show that the Yes Side is a good bit ahead,  a Red C Poll for the National Youth Council of Ireland last week put the the Yes campaign on 74% and 4% against. The remaining 22% are undecided/Don’t know. While this is good news, there is a word of warning number of people who are informed about the issues. The poll has these numbers:

  • 14% say they are extremely knowledgeable about the Children’s Referendum
  • 19% say they are quite knowledgeable
  • 39% say they are not very knowledgeable
  • 22% say they are not at all knowledgeable

Its because of this Groups in favour must be out there making there points to ensure that they get their point across before the No side really get going!

So who is out campaigning on this? On the Yes Side we have:

  • Fine Gael
  • Labour
  • Fianna Fail
  • Sinn Fein
  • ULA
  • All independent TD’s and Senators
  • Yes For Children (composed of ISPCC, Barnardos, Children’s Rights Alliance and Campaign for Children)

On the No Side you have:

  • Alliance of Parents Against the State
  • Two Right Now
  • Parents for Children
  • John Water’s
  • Vincent Browne

So it does seem a bit one sided! But the Referendums last October was similar and we all know how that worked out for the Oireachtas Powers of Investigation Amendment.

So I have been out canvassing with Yes for Children and Young Fine Gael. With Yes for Children I took part in their canvass in Wilton (12th Oct) and Kinsale (13th Oct) and boy are these people good. Most of their canvassers are workers and volunteers with children’s charities and certainly passionate on this. As you can guess the majority of the responses were quite positive with some people questioning the cost, timing and a few people thinking we were voting on abortion (not yet!!!).

Kinsale was a very similar and we were blessed with the weather and certainly the people of Kinsale were very interested in what we were doing and supportive. One of or two people were against the amendment, but that is the joy of a democracy! One person was against the amendment because it didnt go far enough, which was an interesting point!

With YFG it has mainly been an information campaign on campus, but a door to door canvass is also under way, which I have been able to partake in yet. Hopefully that will change!

With today being the last day to register to vote, the campaign enters the final stretch. With TV3 hosting a debate next week, hopefully more coverage of the referendum will follow.

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Poverty-reduction measures ‘fall short’

A LOT more could have been done in the Budget to make a real difference to the lives of Ireland’s poorest children and pensioners, campaign groups claimed last night.Social Affairs Minister Seamus Brennan said his €1.4 billion budget package — €300 million more than last year — was focused on eliminating child poverty and increasing pensioners’ incomes.

Mr Brennan said all child dependent allowance rates would be increased to a new maximum rate of €22 per child per week from January, and child benefit would be increased by €10 a month from April.

Mr Brennan said he was also delivering on the Government commitment to bring State pensions to €200 a week, with the contributory pension increasing to €209.30, an increase of 16 and the non-contributory pension increasing to €200, up €18.

St Vincent De Paul (SVP) said that while moves made by Mr Brennan to tackle poverty were welcome, it believes he could have done more to help the country’s poorest families.

“A more targeted approach could have been taken to assist those most in need, particularly those on social welfare and low paid employment,” said SVP vice president Prof John Monaghan.

Ireland’s largest children’s charity, Barnardos, welcomed the €10 increase in child benefit, along with the changes in child dependence allowance, but felt the minister could have gone further to make a real difference to the lives of 100,000 children living in consistent poverty.

“Overall, we would give this budget six out of 10, with the additional remark ‘could have done better’,” said Barnardos chief executive Fergus Finlay.

The national organisation for one-parent families, One Family, were disappointed with the dismal increase in the top-up payment targeted at those with children dependent on social welfare — it was the first such increase in 12 years.

“The nature of the increase means that children in one-parent families, who are the poorest family type, will only receive a paltry €2.70 increase in child dependent allowance (CDA) per week,” said One Family’s policy manager Candy Murphy.

Age Action said it was concerned that the Government had decided not to do more to help Ireland’s poorest pensioners at a time when the State’s coffers were bulging.

But Combat Poverty director Helen Johnston said measures they had recommended had been delivered on and believed the Government was moving in the right direction in terms of tackling child poverty.

Ms Johnston said Combat Poverty had calculated that the increases in CDA, child benefit and the 50% increase in the back to school clothing and footwear allowance meant that a child in a family in receipt of social welfare would get an additional €9 per week.

But SIPTU said the Budget would be seen as “miserly to mothers and children” because of the Government’s failure to adequately increase child benefit, extend it to all families or raise the amount paid to women on maternity leave.

Source: BudgetForum.com