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Shane Ross was among the independent TDs calling for the vote to be deferred Photocall Ireland

Referendum vote cannot be postponed, says commission

The only way for the vote to be delayed is if a general election was called.

THE REFERENDUM COMMISSION has said there is no practical way to postpone the popular vote on the Fiscal Treaty.

The only way that the ballot could be delayed under current law would be if the Government were to call a general election, the Commission said. In that case, the referendum could only be moved to the same date as the election.

The Commission, which is a nominally independent body appointed by the Government, said it wished to “clarify” the legal status of the referendum date after several calls for a postponement.

A group of independent TDs yesterday called for the Fiscal Treaty vote to be delayed, saying political uncertainty in the eurozone means it would be in Ireland’s best interests.

But the Commission said in a statement:

Once that order [setting the referendum date] is made, the only circumstance in which it may be changed, according to the Referendum Act 1994, is if a general election is called [...] There are no other circumstances in which the Minister has the power to postpone a referendum.

Government ministers have rejected calls for the vote to be deferred. Justice minister Alan Shatter said today it would be of “no benefit” to Ireland.

Agriculture minister and Fine Gael referendum campaign director Simon Coveney welcomed the statement from the Referendum Commission, saying: “This definitively puts to bed any suggestion that the Referendum could, or should, be postponed.”

More: Kenny plays down chances of EU growth deal before referendum>

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