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Citizens' Assembly recommends a permanent electoral commission, equal funding and weekend voting

The Assembly has been hearing from experts on the issue all weekend.

citizens assembly File. Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

THE CITIZENS’ ASSEMBLY has approved a number of proposals in relation to how referendums in Ireland are run.

The Assembly has been hearing from experts on the issue all weekend.

The assembly has backed calls for a permanent electoral commission, equal funding to be given to both sides and

Today, its 99 members voted on a total of 11 questions. It voted:

  • 94% in favour of the Referendum Commission’s functions being carried out by a permanent Electoral Commission
  • 94% in favour of the Referendum Commission being obliged to give its view on significant matters of factual or legal dispute that arise during a referendum campaign in the public domain (including on social media);
  • 87% in agreement with the current position where the Government is not permitted to spend public money to advocate on one side only of a referendum campaign;
  • 68% voted that the Government should provide money to both sides equally in referendum campaigns;
  • 98% voted for the Oireachtas to develop and effectively implement a system of spending limits in referendum campaigns for registered political parties, campaign groups and individuals;
  • 72% voted for anonymous donations to registered political parties and campaign groups to be prohibited;
  • 80% voted to have more than one referendum on unrelated issues at the same time;
  • In the event of more than one referendum at the same time, the Assembly voted that the maximum number should be no more than two (41.7%)
  • 76% voted in favour of allowing more than two options on a ballot paper in a constitutional referendum;
  • 89% voted that in principle the Oireachtas and the Government should give effect to the outcome of a referendum within 5 years;

On voter turnout, 56% voted in favour of early voting being allowed, while 100% voted for weekend voting.

The Chair of the Assembly the Honourable Ms Mary Laffoy said:

“Throughout this weekend, we have considered the way in which referendums are held in Ireland from the historical position to the legal regulation of campaigns to voter turnout, super referendums, repeat referendums, citizens’ initiatives and direct democracy. We have made important recommendations in all of these areas.”

The Citizens’ Assembly meets again on 3 and 4 March to make recommendations on the fifth and final topic it is to discuss; fixed term parliaments.

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