Woman seeks to challenge Electoral and European Parliamentary Elections acts

Undischarged bankrupts not allowed to contest national or European elections

Jillian Godsil, whose house was repossessed last year, wants to run as a candidate in Ireland South in the European elections. Photograph:  Collins/Courts

Jillian Godsil, whose house was repossessed last year, wants to run as a candidate in Ireland South in the European elections. Photograph: Collins/Courts

 

A woman who wants to contest the European elections on a debt relief platform has asked the High Court to hear her challenge to laws preventing her from doing so, while she remains an undischarged bankrupt, before nominations close at the end of next month.

Jillian Godsil, whose house was repossessed last year, wants to run as a candidate in Ireland South in the European elections, which includes her base at Coolroe, Tinahely, Co Wicklow. She also intends to run for Wicklow County Council to represent Baltinglass and ultimately run for the Dáil.

Because she was adjudicated bankrupt last month, she may legally contest only local elections, not Dáil or European elections. She is challenging the constitutionality of provisions of the Electoral Act and the European Parliamentary Elections Act preventing bankrupts from contesting these elections.

Ms Godsil initiated proceedings last week and yesterday her lawyers asked Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns for an early hearing.

Robert Barron SC, for the State, said it was a serious case that could not be rushed. Mr Justice Kearns said it may be possible to hear the case in mid- April but, if not, it could not be heard before nominations closed on April 28th.

The court could not be expected to produce a judgment within 10 minutes of a case ending, particularly considering its importance. He added that Ms Godsil could have brought her case a month ago and it could have been finished by now.

Mr Justice Kearns directed that the State should have its defence ready by Friday and the case would come before the court again next Monday.

Ms Godsil alleges the exclusion of bankrupts from contesting these elections breaches the constitutional principle of equality and impermissibly interferes with the right to a free choice as a voter.