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AG referendum advice leak to be investigated

The leaking of legal advice from the Attorney General on the wording of the government’s Family and Care referendums will likely be investigated, Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman has said.

He told RTÉ’s This Week programme: “I imagine the department of the Taoiseach will look at the issue.”

The minister said it was “hugely frustrating” that the advice was leaked on the day before polling “at a time in the campaign when people aren’t able to properly address it due to the broadcasting moratorium”.

The unpublished advice from Attorney General Rossa Fanning, which was first published by The Ditch website, said proposals which would see the State “strive” to support the provision of care within families would have “real effects” that could be enforced by the courts.

However, it also said there was legal uncertainty over whether the word “strive” would be more forceful than the word currently in the Constitution – “endeavour.”

Mr Rossa also advised that it is “difficult to predict with certainty” how the Irish courts would interpret the concept of “durable relationships”.

On This Week, Minister O’Gorman said the AG’s 12-page document “backs-up the arguments I and the government were making in terms of the meaning of durable relationships… in terms of its potential impact or lack of impact in other policy areas”.

He added the advice also “very strongly backed-up what we were saying in terms the amendment of care would provide meaningful supports for family carers if it was litigated”.

Asked if his ministerial position was tenable given the referendums were roundly defeated, Minister O’Gorman said he had “worked hard” on the campaign; he accepted that the electorate had not supported the government’s propositions; but he would be “continuing my work”.

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