Woman loses bid to challenge referendum result

A woman who campaigned against the Children’s Referendum has lost on all grounds her High Court challenge to the constitutionality of laws governing bringing petitions disputing referendum results.

Woman loses bid to challenge referendum result

Joanna Jordan, of Glenageary Rd Upper, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin, previously secured leave to bring a petition aimed at overturning the ‘yes’ result in the November 2012 referendum, achieved by a majority of 58% to 42% based on a turnout of 33.49%.

She relied on the Supreme Court finding, given two days before the Children’s Referendum in proceedings taken by Mark McCrystal, the Government spend of €1.1m on a one-sided information campaign favouring the referendum amounted to a “clear disregard” of limits imposed by the Constitution. She also relied on Supreme Court decisions, in proceedings brought by former Green Party MEP Patricia McKenna, to the effect the State is prohibited by the Constitution from spending public monies to advocate support for a particular side in a referendum.

After her petition was rejected last year on grounds that she had failed to prove the information campaign materially affected the outcome, a further hearing was held to address her claims the relevant provisions of the 1994 Referendum Act were unconstitutional.

In that challenge, she argued the requirement for a petitioner disputing a referendum result to prove wrongful conduct such as to probably “materially affect” the result of the referendum was unconstitutional as it was impossible to prove. The onus should be on the Government to prove its campaign did not materially affect the result, she said.

Yesterday, Mr Justice McDermott said he did not accept it was impossible to prove material effects based on a balance of probabilities. Ms Jordan is appealing the rejection of her Supreme Court petition and a date for that appeal, and her appeal against yesterday’s judgement, will be fixed later.

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