Voters urged not to punish Coalition
The court also pointed to the Department of Children’s own admission there was an error or “mis-statement” in the booklet and website.
Yesterday, the solicitor for Mark McCrystal, the Dublin engineer who took the challenge, said the ruling was unanimous and criticised the Department of Children for its delay in correcting the error on its website.
Colm MacGeehin said the department was aware of the error on October 31st but did not correct its website until November 7th, on the second day of the Supreme Court hearing.
The department acknowledged the delay yesterday. A spokeswoman also confirmed that the booklet and website had been thoroughly examined for compliance with the McKenna judgment since August by its internal legal advisers and also by the office of Attorney General Máire Whelan.
Five Independent TDs called for the referendum to be deferred after the ruling. One, Shane Ross, said it was too late to correct the imbalance and called for emergency legislation to pass through the Dáil today. “Put it off for three months and have a fair referendum in fair circumstances,” he said.
However, Government sources said that under the Referendum Act 1994, the only way in which the poll could be deferred was if a general election was called.
Polling stations for those entitled to vote in the referendum will be open across the State from 9am to 10pm tomorrow. Counting of ballots will begin at 9am on Sunday.
At a last-minute canvassing event in the city centre this morning, Mr Varadkar urged voters to go out and cast their ballot tomorrow.
“Decisions are made by those who turn up. If there is a low turnout it means every vote is worth even more,” he said.
Commuters coming off the Luas at Stephen’s Green were hurrying to get to work in the rain, and few people acknowledged the Minister’s presence as he distributed leaflets calling for a Yes vote with members of Young Fine Gael.
Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald defended the Government’s decision to run a separate information campaign to that of the Referendum Commission, saying that people in the past had criticised the Government for not supplying enough information.
Fianna Fáil’s spokesman on children Robert Troy said the Government’s “failure to ensure fairness and impartiality” was “frustrating and disappointing” but this should not distract from the “core issues”.
Prominent No campaigner, columnist John Waters, accused the Government of “effectively misappropriating” public funds to produce “propaganda” on the referendum.
In a final statement this evening, the Referendum Commission urged people to vote on the amendment tomorrow.
Commission chairwoman Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan said that any proposal to amend the constitution “is left entirely to the people to decide”.
“Every voter should take the opportunity to make their voice heard. We are privileged to live in a democracy with a written constitution which we the people own,” she said.