A Permament Referendum Commission? How about an Election Commission?


No Jobs In The Lisbon Lisbon Treaty
No Jobs In The Lisbon Lisbon Treaty (Photo credit: infomatique)

Today the suggestion has been made for a permanent Referendum Commission after everything that happened with the Children’s Right’s referendum, but is it really viable? Would an election commission be a better idea?

Apart from recent spate of referendums (4 in the last 12 months) we do not have that many referendums, so a permanent Referendum Commission is really out of the question, it would be a quango and we are supposed to be cutting them!

But would not an Election Commission or Electoral Commission be a better solution. So what would it do?

It could do the following:

  • take on the functions of the Standard’s in Public Office Commission (SIPO),
  • take on the roll of registering political parties from the Clerk of the Dáil,
  • take on the roll of registering nominating bodies from the Clerk of the Seanad,
  • take on the roll of maining the electoral register from local authorities,
  • take on the roll of the Referendum Commission during the referendum,
  • take responsibility for the running of all elections as well as the appointment of returning officers,
  • and take responsibility for educate the public on voting in all elections in the state.

Would that not be a better solution? Would that not be more useful? I doubt this will happen, but I think the Government should consider it at least!

The least the government should do is return the powers of the Referendum Commission it had before the first Nice Referendum! But I won’t hold my breath!!

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30th Amendment to Constitution – Text

A lunchtime protest by dislocated workers was ...

The Bill amending the Constitution to allow Ireland to ratify the Fiscal Compact is now available on the Oireachtas Website (PDF).

The bill proposes inserting a new sub-section 10 to Article 29 which deals with foreign affairs. The new section will read as follows:

10° The State may ratify the Treaty on Stability, Coordination andGovernance in the Economic and Monetary Union done at Brussels on the 2nd day of March 2012. No provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State that are necessitated by the obligations of the State under that Treaty or prevents laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by bodies competent under that Treaty from having the force of law in the State.

The Dáil will debate the amendment starting on Wednesday as it rushes to pass the amendment ahead of the referendum on May 31st. Once the Amendment has cleared all stages in the Dáil and Seanad a Referendum Commission will then be established.

Text of the current Constitution (PDF). Correct as of March 2010, not including the 29th Amendment approved by Referendum last October.

Fiscal Treaty Referendum: Thursday May 31st

The date has been set for the Fiscal Treaty Referendum and it will take place on Thursday May 31st. Polls will be open from 7am until 10pm.

The date was announced by An Táiniste Eamonn Gilmore in the Dáil this afternoon following a Cabinet Meeting this morning when the date was agreed upon.

There will be much disappointment that the vote will be held on a Thursday considering that Fine Gael and Labour regularly lambasted past Governments for holding elections on weekdays.

Fianna Fail leader, Micheal Martin has called on the Government to produce a white paper on the treaty to aid discussion and debate on the treaty.

The next step for the Government now will be to publish the bill to amend the Constitution to allow for the treaty to be ratified and then to set up a Referendum Commission to inform the public.

Campaigners have 64 days to persuade people of there arguments and with recent polls showing the Yes side in the lead with 60% its going to be a tough campaign!

Don’t forget you can read the treaty here!

The Forgotten Referendums?

With all the focus on the Presidential Election on October 27th, the two Referenda on the Constitution seem to have slipped under the radar. At home we received the the Referendum Commission’s booklet to the referenda and much like their website I was very disappointed in the the information given.
While they give the basic information on the actual changes to the Constitution as set out in the 29th Amendment to the Constitution, regarding Judges Pay, and the 30th Amendment to the Constitution, regarding Oireachtas Investigations, as they do not give much of the possible limitations or possible consequences to

the changes.

The media attention focused on the Presidential Election has allowed the Government to slip these amendments under the public noses and there seem to be no focus on getting to explain the need or the changes they wish to make.

One source I have found to be quite good is the Journal.ie’s guide to the Referenda which does a far better role then the traditional media or the Referendum Commission itself.

So take the advice of the Referendum Commission and be informed when you go to vote on October 27th and not just what you are voting on but why!

The Lisbon Debate gets going – A bit of a round-up

Treaty of Lisbon
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You mightened have noticed it but the Referendum Commission was set up yesterday and Mr Justice Frank Clarke has been appointed as its Chair. According to the website

The new Commission is currently planning its information campaign for this impending referendum.

I am sure we are all looking forward to that campaign.

So today I got another email from the European Movement Ireland, this time they were point out an opinion article in todays Irish Times by Richard Greene, who claims

If you are against abortion, you should reject the treaty

Read the full article for the rest of the argument. The EMI of course point out the following:

The Lisbon Treaty will not bring abortion into this country.

  • Since 1991 we have had a protocol in EU Treaty law clarifying our position on abortion. That’s eighteen years now. And still no piece of EU legislation that has questioned or affected this Protocol. In fact, since 1973 there has not been a piece of EU law that has sought to change our position on abortion.
  • The Catholic Church has confirmed that our position on abortion is not affected by the Lisbon Treaty. During the first Lisbon Referendum, Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin said that ‘Catholics could vote for the Treaty in good conscience’.
  • We are not alone. There are in fact five countries that have clear restrictive measures on abortion – Malta, Spain, Poland, Portugal and us. In fact, Malta has even stricter rules than we have.
  • Just to make sure, we got an extra guarantee a couple of weeks ago from our European partners reassuring us that reasserts that our original 1991 protocol cannot be touched.

Moving on from the abortion issue which has raised its head early in the debate, Suzy has picked up on a Press Release by Lucinda Creighton TD (FG) who could have titled her PR a little better or of course maybe been a bit clearer to what she was on about in the PR. This is how the Yes campaign lost first time round folks!

Jim Murray over on blogactiv looks at another bad argument for the Yes side. It seems the problem on the Yes side is we can’t get the right thing across. Jim does raise the point though, that gratitude is not a good reason.

Of course the past is not irrelevant, and there are good reasons for voting for Lisbon on the basis of past experience – but gratitude is not one of them

You can’t fault that!

Also the first online poll is up and running on the Munster-Express site. The Generation Yes folk kindly notified me of this one on Twitter. Its about half-way down the front page, do give it a vote!

I will be doing this round up every so often, so if you see anything let me know on twitter or drop an email off to stephen[at]stephenspillane[dot]com and I will have a sconce.

UPDATE: Don’t forget about the Generation Yes meeting on Thursday in Cork! See the Generation Yes website for details of the other meetings

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Referendum Commission to be set up Today: Lisbon 2 gets underway

Leinster House, home of the Ireland's parliame...
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I got an email today from the lovely people at European Movement Ireland which a good bit of information on the run up to Lisbon 2 Referendum. The bill setting up the Referedendum is published today, meaning that the Referendum Commission can be set up.

Commission will aim to inform voters of the issue as well as encourage people to vote. The Commission will be made up of the following:

  • A former judge of the Supreme Court or High Court or a Judge of the High Court
  • The Ombudsman
  • The Comptroller and Auditor General
  • The Clerk of the Dáil
  • The Clerk of the Seanad

The time line will look like this:

  • Monday July 6th: Bill Published and Referendum Commission set up
  • Wednesday July 8th: Bill debated in Dáil
  • Thursday July 9th: Bill debated in Seanad

The referendum must take place with 90 days of the bill passing both houses of the Oireachtas so October 2nd is looking like the date.

I am informed by sources that an Taoiseach will be speaked in the Seanad on the Bill. The fact he is speaking in Seanad is a rarity and might be worth a listen.

According to the EMI there might be a second question when we enter the polling booth in October

Interestingly, as part of the referendum language we will be deciding in the polling booth come October, we may also be asked if we would like to put a positive statement about Europe into our Constitution. We at European Movement Ireland would be very much welcome this move

That would be an interesting development and could help steer the debate towards Europe and the positives of Europe rather then just focusing on the Treaty of Lisbon.

So we can expect campaigning to really get going over the summer months.

UPDATE: European Voice states that the Referendum Commission will be set up next Monday July 13th not today as suggested by me.

Gormley is expected to set up a referendum commission next Monday (13 July), which will provide impartial information on the Lisbon treaty

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