High Court to rule on alleged 'one-sided' referendum information

By Aodhan O'Faolain and Ray Managh

High Court to rule on alleged 'one-sided' referendum information

By Aodhan O'Faolain and Ray Managh

The President of the High Court will rule later tomorrow on a challenge to the spending by the government of some €1.1m public monies on an allegedly one-sided information campaign about the forthcoming Children's Referendum.

The challenge has been brought by Mark McCrystal who claims the Government is using information that is not neutral but is rather designed, intended and likely to promote a particular outcome in the referendum on November 10.

An engineer with an address at Kilbarrack Road, Dublin, Mr McCrystal claims the State is acting in breach of the 1995 Supreme Court judgment in the McKenna case requiring referenda to be explained to the public impartially. While he has no objection to the State arguing for a Yes vote, it may only do so by means not involving expenditure of public money, he says.

In his action against the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, the Government, Ireland and the Attorney General Mr McCrystal is seeking a declaration the respondents are not entitled to use public money on a website, booklet and an advertising campaign concerning the referendum on the Thirty-First Amendment of the Constitution (Children) Bill 2012.

He also wants an injunction requiring the State to remedy the situation. The state in opposing the action denies that the McKenna judgment has been breached.

Today following the conclusion of submissions from both sides in the action Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns said that given the urgency of the matter he would give his decision today (Thursday).

However the Judge has previously remarked that no matter what the court decides his ruling is expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court.

Copyright Ray Managh

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