Expert: No evidence leaflet altered child poll outcome

There is no evidence that should convince the High Court that the effect on voters of the Government’s unlawful information booklet for the Children Referendum had a marked impact on the outcome, an expert on referendums has said.

Michael Marsh, professor of comparative political behaviour at Trinity College Dublin, said evidence to the contrary was based on a “flawed analysis” of a poll of voters carried out for the Referendum Commission after the vote.

The Behaviour & Attuitudes poll of 2,012 voters was carried out days after the referendum was passed on Nov 10, 2012, by a majority of 52% to 48% based on a 33.49% turnout.

Two days earlier, the Supreme Court ruled the Government’s €1.1m public spend on a “one-sided” campaign was unlawful.

Prof Marsh gave evidence on behalf of the Government yesterday in an action by Ms Jordan, of Glenageary Road Upper, Dún Laoghaire, to overturn the outcome of the referendum.

Ms Jordan claims the Government’s information booklet had a material effect on the outcome.

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Under cross-examination, Prof Marsh said in the booklet there was no information about how people actually considered the Government booklet as they were not asked a direct question about that.

He said it was possible for more information to make a person more undecided. His analysis of the B&A poll indicated 44% of those who only received the Government booklet had voted no and he would have expected that to be higher if the guide had had the effect alleged by Ms Jordan.

The hearing continues.


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