Vote tainted, insists Waters
Prominent No campaigner and journalist John Waters has accused the Government of “effectively misappropriating” public funds to produce “propaganda” on the referendum.
Waters argued the result of the referendum, if it was carried, would be “contaminated” after the Supreme Court found parts of the Government-produced information booklet and website did not comply with the McKenna judgment.
“This is a sensational decision in the sense that it actually indicts the Government’s campaign completely for abuse of process and shows that the Government has effectively been misappropriating public funds in order to sell propaganda,” said Waters.
Former MEP Patricia McKenna, who said that in 1995 she had “forced government to recognise there are two points of view and that it cannot bombard people with propaganda”, also welcomed yesterday’s ruling.
“The Government has pushed the boundaries under which they must operate a step too far,” she said.
Ms McKenna said principles prohibiting the use of public funds to promote a particular outcome in a referendum must be adhered to in order to “guarantee the voters a free and fair process”.
She said the people alone could decide whether they agreed with a proposed constitutional amendment. “Therefore it defies basic logic if this right to decide, which assumes a free and fair environment for the decision maker, is subverted through subtle or covert campaigns funded from [the] decisionmakers’ purse.”
The anti-referendum campaign Two Rights Now said the poll tomorrow should be called off and a new version of the proposed constitutional amendment voted on in conjunction with next year’s local elections.
Solicitor Malachy Steenson also called for the poll to be cancelled.
“If the Supreme Court is to mean anything then it must be respected and this referendum called off.” .
The Ombudsman for Children Emily Logan said it was important the ruling did not deter people from “making up their mind”.