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Noonan jokes: We should give defunct e-voting machines to pubs

Michael Noonan said that the unused e-voting machines, which have cost the State €55 million over the past decade, are “valueless”.

Michael Noonan laughing at something unrelated last November.
Michael Noonan laughing at something unrelated last November.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

MINISTER MICHAEL NOONAN has said that defunct e-voting machines are “valueless”, and joked that they could instead be used by Irish-themed pubs around the world.

Noonan also criticised the “hubris” of the Fianna Fáil-led government which spent €51 million on the machines a decade ago.

The Minister for Finance was responding to a question outside Leinster House this morning before the Dáil resumes for its first session of 2012. The Cabinet is due to discuss what to do with the defunct machines when it meets today.

Noonan said the e-voting machines had been “a bad decision by the government at the time”.

“Fianna Fáil thought it wouldn’t be fashionable to be, as Bertie said, using the peann lauidhe [pencil] any more and you needed to have a high tech machine,” he said.

“But when the high tech machine was checked out, it didn’t do the job that it was supposed to do, so the system was flawed. They’re valueless now”.

He jokingly suggested: “There may be a market for them in Irish theme pubs across the world”.

He was critical of the Fianna Fáil-led government for wasting money on the machines.

“They were at the highest point of their climbing the summit of hubris from which finally they collapsed,” said Noonan.

The e-voting machines have all been in storage since they were purchased for €51 million in 2002. The State has since spent just under an additional €4 million in storage costs.

A small number of the 7,504 units were used on a trial basis in the 2002 general election in the constituencies of Dublin West, Dublin North and Meath. Most of them, however, were never used.

The machines were due to be rolled out in further elections but a report from the Commission on Electronic Voting raised concerns about the security of people’s votes.

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan last year described the machines as a “very wasteful use of taxpayers’ money”.

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