A full garda investigation is underway now into allegations surrounding registration forms for the supplementary electoral register in County Kerry.
The publication of the register with just under 2,800 additional voters names, had been delayed but has now been given to candidates.
The enquiry centres on the Killarney electoral area, it is understood.
The central allegation is that that large numbers of forms, involving up to 200 additional voters, or voters who were changing address, out of around 3,000 on the supplementary register of electors due to be published on Tuesday were stamped without the presence of the voters, as required.
The matter was raised at the meeting of Kerry County Council on Monday where Garda Commissioner Drew Harris was being called on to conduct an “immediate” full investigation into allegations surrounding registration forms for the supplementary electoral register in Co Kerry.
An Garda Siochana confirmed last week, it was carrying out what it termed “preliminary enquires” centring on voter registration forms.
However, this has now been upgraded to a full formal investigation.
GSOC the Garda Ombudsman said it was aware of the matter, but would not comment on whether it was also involved.
This morning, asked for comment, the Garda Press Office confirmed the investigation was underway
“An Garda Síochána are investigating this matter. As this is ongoing we are unable to comment any further,”.
GSOC the Garda Ombudsman said it would not comment on whether it was involved, but confirmed it was aware of the matter.
The council in Kerry wrote to Garda Commissioner Drew Harris on Monday following a call from Independent councillor Brendan Cronin of the Killarney Municipal District, seconded by Toireasa Ferris Sinn Féin of Tralee MD for a full garda investigation at the meeting of Kerry County Council. Cllr Cronin said there were now serious legal issues regarding the validity of the supplementary register of voters in the Killarney MD and in the event of a few votes separating candidates, “is wide open to legal challenge”.
A full Garda investigation was needed, and there was an urgency to the investigation so that the good name of all gardaí and the good name of all councillors and politicians and candidates is not tarnished, he said.
The chief executive of Kerry County Council, Moira Murrell, has said the council met with An Garda Siochana last week and provided them with the information sought as part of the Garda enquiries, Ms Murrell said.
The council would continue to co-operate “100%”. However any investigation was for the gardaí, the chief executive stressed.
The register is updated each February, and a supplementary register to allow people who had no vote and might wish to do so comes into effect when there is a referendum.
The overall number of supplementary names likely to have been added to the Kerry register, which usually totals around 117,000 voters, is not high, it is felt, and is in line with other years.
Reasons for inclusion in the supplement to the register include changes of address, registration of new citizens, or first-time registration of young people who have just turned 18.
The supplementary registration of a voter using the form RFA2 has to be witnessed by a garda and the form has to have the garda station stamp.
A person who has moved within the County between Local Electoral Areas may apply to be entered in the Supplement to the Register of Electors for the Local Electoral Area in which they are now resident. This RFA 3 form also needs to be witnessed at Garda Station in the presence of the voter.
The duty of the council in updating the register is simply to check whether the new applicant is already on the register, and also if the form is properly filled out and stamped by a garda.
It is the garda role to check the identity and verify the identity of the voter and, as such, any irregularity is a matter for the garda.
Meanwhile, the Department of Housing and Local Government said proposals to modernise the electoral register currently under consideration include an optional online registration process in parallel with the existing paper-based system; the creation of a unique identifier for individuals; proportionate and measures to improve the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of changes to the register information, e.g. in respect of those that are deceased.