The referendum commission is set to launch a series of television, radio, and media advertisements urging people to inform themselves about the details of Ireland’s abortion laws before the national vote in just four and a half weeks.

The commission’s chairperson, Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, confirmed the move after the publication of the independent group’s 16-page information guidelines for the referendum on its dedicated website refcom2018.ie overnight.

The commission said it is vital the public obtains independent information on the vote. While not referencing concerns over Facebook adverts paid for by unknown groups and other fake news issues, Ms Justice Kennedy said that, like in previous referenda, it will provide information to the public through all media outlets and an information pack sent to all households in the coming weeks.

“Between now and May 25, there will undoubtedly be a lively debate between those advocating a yes vote and a no vote,” she said.

“Our role is not to debate the merits or otherwise of the arguments of either side, but to provide an independent, neutral account of what is being proposed so that voters can be properly informed.”

In its first formal step into the campaign, the commission last night published its 16-page information leaflet on the referendum, including the consequences of a yes and no vote, an explanation of Ireland’s abortion laws, and a history of previous referenda on the issue.

The commission will begin broadcasting television and radio advertisements in the coming days, and will offer a separate campaign in media outlets and on outside billboards.

The commission will also answer queries through the dedicated phone number, 1890 270 970.

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The referendum commission move came as concerns continue to be raised over fake news in the lead up to the May 25 vote, and as the GAA was forced to tell campaigners on both sides of the debate, it is an independent organisation.

The GAA statement came after Tyrone manager Mickey Harte and a number of GAA players launched a pro-life skills camp for children, and as Donegal footballer Eoin McGee took part in a pro-choice campaign launch.

Elsewhere, the Charities Regulator was criticised by pro-choice campaigners for ordering the removal of a ‘Repeal’ mural at the Project Arts Centre in Dublin’s Temple Bar due to its non-political charitable status.

Meanwhile, writing in today’s Irish Examiner, Culture Minister and Fine Gael pro-choice co-ordinator Josepha Madigan has urged a yes vote, saying the vote is a once in a generation opportunity for Ireland.

Analysis: 11

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