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Watch: What is a referendum


In less than three weeks, Irish citizens will be asked to vote in two referendums.

One is on care in the home, the other is on the definition of family.

The Electoral Commission has described the referendums as ‘complex‘.

It is urging voters to ‘learn as much as you can from places you trust and make up your own mind’.

But before you get your head around what you will be voting on, let’s take a look at what you will be voting in.

What exactly is a referendum?

A referendum is a national vote on a particular issue to potentially change the Constitution – Bunreacht na hÉireann.

The Constitution was enacted in 1937 and sets out how Ireland should be governed and the rights of its citizens.

It is our rulebook.

The consent of Irish citizens is needed to make any changes to the Constitution, and that is done by holding a constitutional referendum.

To hold a constitutional referendum, a Bill must first be introduced in the Dáil, setting out the wording of the proposed amendment.

If both the Dáil and the Seanad pass the Bill, the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage makes an order specifying the polling day for the referendum.

Since 1937, there have been 32 amendments to the constitution.

To vote in the twin referendums on 8 March, you will need to be 18 or over, an Irish citizen, and registered to vote.

Watch our video for a really simple guide to what is a referendum

Video by Eleanor Mannion and Mary Regan


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