The Government has signalled a late autumn date for a referendum on children’s rights, with 2m information booklets to be delivered to homes across Ireland.
The Office of Public Works this week advertised the tender for the information booklets.
The pamphlets will be delivered to 10 distribution hubs throughout the country, the tender advised.
Crucially, it stipulates the booklets must be delivered to the distribution centres by the week commencing Oct 15.
The tender marks the first move to hold the children’s referendum this year. It also suggests the Government is following the model used to inform voters during the fiscal treaty referendum campaign in April, when bilingual 40-page booklets on the treaty and an explanatory memorandum were delivered to homes.
The children’s referendum booklet will be between 32 and 48 pages and A5 in size.
The OPW yesterday said the text for the booklets had not yet been decided but it was necessary to plan the printing in advance.
“The text of the booklet has not yet been written — this is a matter for the department. It is necessary to commence the procurement process now to ensure that the booklet will be available in advance of the referendum to be held in the autumn.”
The Government’s information campaign is in addition to the independent information campaign carried out by the Referendum Commission.
Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil has called on Social Protection Minister Joan Burton to clarify her position and “dispel any rumours” of budget cuts to the children’s allowance.
Its spokesman on social protection Willie O’Dea said he was concerned that plans to ask wealthy families to voluntarily forego their allowances were a “first step” in changing the criteria of the benefit.
Following reports that plans are under way to allow families to gift the €140-a-month payment back to the State, the Department of Social Protection said parents always had that option.
A spokesperson said the only changes planned are to create a system to record those who forego the payment.
Mr O’Dea said: “I fear that asking families to hand back the children’s allowance is the first step in changing the criteria for the benefit.”
Cuts to child benefit for the third and fourth child were introduced this year.
“Families are already under enough strain and they will not be able to cope with another drop in their income,” said Limerick TD Mr O’Dea.
“Poorer families have already been hit with other cuts to their fuel allowance and clothing allowance, many depend on the children’s allowance to be able to clothe and feed their children.”
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