04/11/2012 11:03 GMT | Updated 04/01/2013 05:12 GMT

Eastenders 'Could Influence Ireland's Children's Referendum'

Irish oliticians are concerned the results of the forthcoming Children's Referendum could be influenced by storyline in a soap opera.

Fianna Fail TD Robert Troy said the Eastenders effect was a worrying undercurrent among voters.

In October, child protection took centre-stage in the BBC series, as Lola Pearce's daughter Lexi was taken into care. The Guardian reported that the British Association of Social Workers complained over how social workers have been portrayed in the plotline.


Eastenders' Billy Mitchell and his granddaughter Lola

Deputy Troy said: "Quite a few times I have been asked about a storyline on Eastenders where a young mother has had her child taken into care and has faced a very difficult battle to get access to the child.

"People have been emotionally affected by the story and have a real concern about the sort of heavy handed state intervention that's portrayed."

Voters are due to go to the polls next Saturday to decide if Ireland's Constitution should be amended to include a new Article dedicated to the protection of children.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has described the referendum as significant and has encouraged people to vote regardless of their view.

Meanwhile, former Presidential candidate Dana Rosemary Scallon has called for a no vote and said the amendment was unnecessary.

The Longford and Wesmeath TD, who has been campaigning for a yes vote on November 10, said: "We need to be careful about this Eastenders effect.

"The reality is that one of the reasons why it took a long time to get the wording right on the amendment was because we had to get the balance right and make sure the state didn't get too much power.

"We don't want the situation here to mirror Britain and this amendment will not allow that to happen. That's why it says the state can only intervene in exceptional circumstances, and that even then, the state action must be proportionate."