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Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

OPW says call for referendum ballot papers is just 'forward planning'

A tender has been published looking for someone to print 3.8 million referendum ballot papers – but it’s not for a particular vote.

THE OFFICE OF Public Works has insisted it is not preparing for a referendum on the latest European Union treaty – after issuing a tender seeking a printer for referendum ballot papers.

The tender – published yesterday by the National Procurement Service, an offshoot of the OPW – seeks parties interested in printing 3,754,000 referendum ballot papers, and to deliver them to 23 different locations around the country.

The tender is broken down into eight lots, allowing interested parties to seek the contract for only a part of the deal.

This afternoon a spokesperson for the OPW dismissed suggestions that the plan was specifically related to the EU treaty – which was the focus of discussion in the Dáil this morning.

“The new contract being put in place is to replace the previous five-year contract, which expired in November 2011,” the spokeswoman said.

“The new contract is for four years, and it is a case of forward planning and the OPW ensuring that it has a contract in place in the event that we are requested to provide material for a referendum.”

The text of the tender notice says that the contract will be awarded to the lowest bidders, though applicants are required to offer a deposit or guarantee.

Even if a referendum is not required on the EU deal currently being negotiated in Brussels, Irish voters are expected to go to the polls twice this year – in referendums to abolish the Seanad and to give constitutional rights to children.

The tender would be awarded to the lowest-priced bidder, though a deposit is demanded from any interested parties.

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