children’s rights, parents’ rights, constitutional law, international law, Irish law
In 2012, the Irish Constitution was amended by the insertion of a new provision focused on children’s rights. This amendment marked the culmination of a twenty-year campaign driven in large part by the opinion that the Constitution overemphasized the rights of parents and the family unit to the detriment of the rights of children. Campaigners hailed the outcome of the referendum as a historic day, but academic opinion has been more cautious about the true impact and potential of the final version. This article examines the lessons of the Irish experience by first exploring the reasons why children’s rights might be constitutionalized. It then examines the background to the Irish amendment, before drawing some conclusions on its impact and on what can be learned from the Irish experience on the value and limitations of constitutional change as a vehicle for advancing children’s rights.