Free newspapers at voting centre to be investigated

AN investigation is underway after free copies of the Irish Independent newspaper were given out in Galway voting centres during last Thursday’s vote on the Lisbon Treaty.

The Galway county registrar called in gardaí to remove batches of the newspaper from polling stations in the Claddagh, Dr Mannix Road, Seamus Quirke Road and Bushypark areas of Galway city.

Marian Chambers Higgins is to lodge a formal letter of complaint to Independent Newspapers concerning what could amount to breaches of referendum rules. She is seeking a written response from the paper.

She has also been in contact with the Department of the Environment, who oversee referendum organisation and legislation.

It is illegal to distribute any campaigning material inside a polling station which might influence the decision of a voter.

Thursday’s Irish Independent carried a front page editorial calling for a yes vote. The distribution of the paper in polling stations prompted angry calls to Galway Bay FM by irate voters.

The Department of the Environment said the law is “cloudy” in this area.

“In this case it was different, because it was a newspaper, but it’s open to different interpretation,” a department spokesperson said.

A spokesperson from Independent Newspapers did not respond to queries on the matter.


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