An umbrella group of organisations and individuals has launched a campaign for a No vote in the Children’s Referendum.

The Christian Solidarity Party, Parents for Children, The Alliance for Parents Against the State, editor of Alive newspaper Fr Brian McKevitt and solicitor and community activist Malachy Steenson are campaigning against the referendum.

Richard Green of the Christian Solidarity Party said that from today it cannot be said there is no opposition to debate the referendum and there will be no shortage of people willing to debate.

Mr Steenson said cases being used to argue for the amendment, such as Roscommon and Kilkenny, all involved the HSE and the State.

He said the State has failed dismally to protect the children already in their care and asked why people would trust them now with greater powers.

Meanwhile, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has said the duty to protect children was an aspiration of the State since 1919, but was excluded when the 1937 Constitution was written.

Speaking at the launch of his party's campaign for a Yes vote in the referendum, he said while children have rights under the Constitution, there is an absence of explicit rights.

Mr Gilmore said since the Constitution was written we have seen the scandals that have occurred, the way children were treated and the way the State "kowtowed" to the churches in respect of children.

Mr Gilmore said that is now being put right.

He also said passing the referendum would make sure children held in St Patrick’s Institution would have the right to be heard in respect of their care and abuse.

Elsewhere, when asked about the Referendum Commission's concern at the low level of public debate in the campaign so far, Minister of State Kathleen Lynch said today's launch of a No campaign would give comfort to broadcasters in terms of having debate.

She said the worst thing would be to have no debate on the public airwaves.

The referendum will be held on Saturday 10 November.