Supreme Court commends referendum campaign appeal

By Aodhan O'Faolain and Ray Managh

Supreme Court commends referendum campaign appeal

By Aodhan O'Faolain and Ray Managh

The Supreme Court has commended hearing an appeal against the High Court's dismissal of a challenge to the €1.1m government spend of public monies on an allegedly one-sided information campaign about the Children's Referendum.

Last week the President of the High Court Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns dismissed an action brought by engineer Mr Mark McCrystal's challenge who claims the State has breached a 1995 Supreme Court decision requiring referenda to be explained to the public impartially.

The Judge held that campaign run by the Government contained material that was "neutral, balanced and had the primary aim of informing the public about the forthcoming referendum."

Mr McCrystal of Kilbarrack Road Dublin, who says had no objection to the State arguing for a Yes vote but it cannot use public money to do so, appealed that decision to the Supreme Court.

Today his Barrister Richard Humnphreys SC said that if the judgment was allowed stand the principles as set out in the McKenna judgment "would be deprived of any substantial bite, reality and meaning as far as citizens are concerned."

The state has opposed the appeal.

The appeal is being heard by a five judge Supreme Court comprised of the Chief Justice Ms Susan Denham, Mr Justice John Murray, Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman, Mr Justice Nial Fennelly and Mr Justice Donal O'Donnell. The appeal continues, and is expected to concluded today (Wednesday.)

In proceedings against the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, the Government, Ireland and the Attorney General, Mr McCrystal seeks a declaration the respondents were not entitled to use public money on a website, booklet and an advertising campaign concerning the referendum. He also seeks an injunction requiring the State to remedy the situation.

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