Sixth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland

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Sixth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland
To ensure that certain adoption orders would not be found to be unconstitutional
LocationRepublic of Ireland Ireland
Date5 July 1979 (1979-07-05)
Results
Votes %
Yes 601,694 98.97%
No 6,265 1.03%
Valid votes 607,959 97.51%
Invalid or blank votes 15,517 2.49%
Total votes 623,476 100.00%
Registered voters/turnout 2,179,466 28.61%

The Sixth Amendment of the Constitution (Adoption) Act 1979 is an amendment to the Constitution of Ireland ensured that certain adoption orders would not be found to be unconstitutional because they had not been made by a court. It was approved by referendum on 5 July 1979 and signed into law on 3 August 1979.

Background[edit]

In 1977 it came to light that for technical reasons child adoption orders made by An Bord Uchtála (the Adoption Board) might be found to be unconstitutional because they were not made by a court or judge. An amendment was therefore required to put the validity of these orders beyond question.

Changes to the text[edit]

The amendment renumbered Article 37 as Article 37.1 and inserted the following section as Article 37.2:

2. No adoption of a person taking effect or expressed to take effect at any time after the coming into operation of this Constitution under laws enacted by the Oireachtas and being an adoption pursuant to an order made or an authorisation given by any person or body of persons designated by those laws to exercise such functions and powers was or shall be invalid by reason only of the fact that such persons or body of persons was not a judge or a court appointed or established as such under this Constitution.

Oireachtas debate[edit]

The Sixth Amendment of the Constitution (Adoption) Bill 1978 was introduced by Fianna Fáil Minister for Justice Gerry Collins on 13 December 1978.[1] It was supported by opposition parties Fine Gael and the Labour Party and it passed final stages in the Dáil on 28 February 1979.[2] In the Seanad, Labour senators Justin Keating and Mary Robinson and Fine Gael senator Alexis FitzGerald proposed an amendment to include the words "notwithstanding the status of such person", which would allow for the adoption of a child of a marital family. This was not approved, and the Bill passed the Seanad without amendment on 5 April 1979.[3] It was put to a referendum on 5 July, on the same day as the similarly uncontroversial Seventh Amendment which dealt with university constituencies for the election of the Seanad.

Result[edit]

The Sixth Amendment was approved almost unanimously with 601,694 (99.0%) votes in favour and 6,265 (1.0%) against. This is the highest support there has been in any referendum for a proposal to amend the Constitution. It was also the lowest turnout for any referendum.

Sixth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland referendum[4]
Choice Votes %
Referendum passed Yes 601,694 98.97
No 6,265 1.03
Valid votes 607,959 97.51
Invalid or blank votes 15,517 2.49
Total votes 623,476 100.00
Registered voters and turnout 2,179,466 28.61
Results by constituency[4]
Constituency Electorate Turnout (%) Votes Proportion of votes
Yes No Yes No
County Carlow 24,967 35.8% 8,544 81 99.1% 0.9%
County Cavan 38,362 27.0% 9,893 116 98.8% 1.2%
County Clare 57,689 26.3% 14,527 175 98.8% 1.2%
Cork City 84,908 35.6% 29,435 221 99.3% 0.7%
County Cork 166,470 33.3% 53,485 487 99.1% 0.9%
County Donegal 80,232 23.0% 17,756 261 98.6% 1.4%
Dublin City 361,067 23.0% 80,492 928 98.9% 1.1%
County Dublin 254,107 26.2% 65,285 601 99.1% 0.9%
County Galway 112,351 25.6% 27,709 272 99.0% 1.0%
County Kerry 83,780 27.1% 21,833 205 99.1% 0.9%
County Kildare 59,355 25.3% 14,531 179 98.8% 1.2%
County Kilkenny 44,688 29.1% 12,362 151 98.8% 1.2%
County Laois 31,743 34.5% 10,520 85 99.2% 0.8%
County Leitrim 20,657 22.9% 4,466 69 98.5% 1.5%
Limerick City 37,938 40.9% 15,116 110 99.3% 0.7%
County Limerick 63,716 32.8% 20,080 197 99.0% 1.0%
County Longford 20,703 27.6% 5,377 92 98.3% 1.7%
County Louth 54,893 34.3% 18,240 187 99.0% 1.0%
County Mayo 81,912 22.3% 17,518 189 98.9% 1.1%
County Meath 57,530 27.1% 14,955 167 98.9% 1.1%
County Monaghan 34,093 26.8% 8,753 106 98.8% 1.2%
County Offaly 36,463 32.9% 11,568 103 99.1% 0.9%
County Roscommon 37,052 27.6% 9,749 107 98.9% 1.1%
County Sligo 37,123 27.1% 9,565 137 98.6% 1.4%
North Tipperary 38,550 39.6% 14,583 135 99.1% 0.9%
South Tipperary 49,280 35.9% 16,942 193 98.9% 1.1%
Waterford City 20,238 33.9% 6,606 49 99.3% 0.7%
County Waterford 35,284 33.4% 11,321 109 99.0% 1.0%
County Westmeath 38,406 26.2% 9,633 148 98.5% 1.5%
County Wexford 62,531 40.4% 24,392 278 98.9% 1.1%
County Wicklow 53,378 31.8% 16,458 127 99.2% 0.8%
Total 2,179,466 28.6% 601,694 6,265 99.0% 1.0%

Note: For this referendum and the Seventh Amendment held on the same day, the constituencies used were each county and county borough (city), which were deemed under section 2 of the Referendum (Amendment) Act 1979 to be constituencies for the purpose of the poll.[5][6] Usually in Irish referendums the general election constituencies are used.

Later developments[edit]

The Thirty-first Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland, which took effect in 2015, added a new Article 42A on Children. It included a section which allowed for the adoption of any child, allowing for the first time the adoption of children of a marital family, as had been proposed in the amendment rejected in the Seanad in 1979. The new Article 42A.3 provided,

Provision shall be made by law for the voluntary placement for adoption and the adoption of any child.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Sixth Amendment of the Constitution (Adoption) Bill, 1978: First Stage". Houses of the Oireachtas. 13 December 1978. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Sixth Amendment of the Constitution (Adoption) Bill, 1978: Committee and Final Stages". Houses of the Oireachtas. 28 February 1979. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Sixth Amendment of the Constitution (Adoption) Bill, 1978: Report and Final Stages". Houses of the Oireachtas. 5 April 1979. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Referendum Results 1937–2015" (PDF). Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. 23 August 2016. p. 33. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  5. ^ "Referendum Results 1937–2015" (PDF). Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. 23 August 2016. p. 32. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  6. ^ "Referendum (Amendment) Act, 1979". Irish Statute Book. 1 June 1979. Retrieved 10 May 2018.

External links[edit]