Woman fails on order to quash Yes result in Children’s Referendum

Joanna Jordan had sought leave to bring petition aimed at overturning Yes vote

Female members of the Oireachtais calling for a Yes vote in the Children’s Referendum in October last year. The Supreme Court found the Government acted unlawfully in spending ¤1.1 million of public monies on a one-sided information campaign on the referendum. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Female members of the Oireachtais calling for a Yes vote in the Children’s Referendum in October last year. The Supreme Court found the Government acted unlawfully in spending ¤1.1 million of public monies on a one-sided information campaign on the referendum. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Fri, Oct 18, 2013, 13:33

A High Court judge has ruled that Dublin homemaker Joanna Jordan has failed to make out a case to justify an order overturning the Yes result on the Children’s Referendum.

Ms Jordan’s lawyers have asked Mr Justice Paul McDermott to put a stay on his proposal to issue a certificate to render the referendum result official and the judge will consider that application later today.

Ms Jordan, of St Kevin’s Villas, Glenageary, who campaigned for a No vote in the November 2012 poll, was in court today when the judge read his lengthy reserved judgment rejecting her case.

Former MEP Kathy Sinnott and Dublin engineer Mark McCrystal, who last November won his action alleging the Government’s information campaign in the referendum was one-sided, were among supporters of Ms Jordan on court.

Ms Jordan had sought leave to bring a petition aimed at overturning the Yes vote. Before a petition can succeed in overturning a referendum result , the Referendum Act 1994 requires a petitioner to show there had been unconstitutional wrongdoing likely to have a “material effect” on the outcome of a referendum.

In this case, Mr Justice McDermott said he would grant leave to present the petition on grounds including that there was prima facie evidence of unconstitutional conduct by the Government arising from the Supreme Court decision in Mr McCrystal’s case that the Government acted unlawfully in spending €1.1 million public monies on a one-sided information campaign.

Ms Jordan had established a fair, bona fide and serious issue to be tried on the grounds set out in her petition as to whether the Government’s campaign had the potential to materially affect the referendum result as a whole, he said.

The judge went on to consider that issue and, having analysed the evidence from the sides, said he was not satisfied on the balance of probabilities that Ms Jordan had made out that case.

The November 10th, 2012 referendum was passed by a margin of 58 to 42 per cent based on a 33.49 per cent turnout.

The judge found the evidence from experts and others for Ms Jordan was not sufficient for the court to find, on the balance of probabilities, that the Government’s information booklet, website and advertising had had a material effect on the result of the referendum.

Ms Jordan’s witnesses included political scientist Dr Michael Bruter of the London School of Economics, British advertising expert Robert Heath and journalist John Waters.