Appeal challenge case expected to end today
A Supreme Court hearing in relation to the Government’s €1.1 million spend on the children’s referendum information campaign is expected to conclude today.
The hearing is an appeal against the High Court’s dismissal of the challenge by engineer Mark McCrystal.
The president of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, had last week dismissed the action. Mr McCrytsal, Kilbarrack Road, Dublin, claimed the Government’s information campaign breached the 1995 Supreme Court judgment on the McKenna case requiring referendums to be explained to the public impartially.
The judge found material used in the Government’s campaign was “neutral, balanced and had the primary aim of informing the public about the forthcoming referendum”. Mr McCrystal appealed that judgment to the Supreme Court and the appeal opened yesterday before a five-judge court presided over by the Chief Justice Mrs Justice Susan Denham who is sitting with Mr Justice John Murray, Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman, Mr Justice Nial Fennelly and Mr Justice Donal O’Donnell.
The appeal is expected to concluded today. Outlining the appeal, Richard Humphreys SC, for Mr McCrystal, said if the High Court judgment were allowed stand the principles as set out in the McKenna judgment “would be deprived of any substantial bite, reality and meaning as far as citizens are concerned”.
The High Court, counsel argued, had erred in holding the material as presented in the Government’s information campaign about the referendum was fair, neutral and impartial. The High Court had “set the bar too high” in holding there must be a clear disregard or breach of the principles of the McKenna judgment before the courts can intervene, he said. Opposing the appeal, David Hardiman SC, for the State parties, rejected arguments the Government booklet or website lacked balance and breached the McKenna judgment.