Garda investigation begins into addition of names to Kerry electoral register

Garda superintendent from outside the area appointed to head up inquiry

The matter was raised at a meeting of Kerry County Council on Monday where Garda Commissioner Drew Harris was called on to conduct an “immediate” investigation. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

The matter was raised at a meeting of Kerry County Council on Monday where Garda Commissioner Drew Harris was called on to conduct an “immediate” investigation. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

A garda investigation is underway into allegations surrounding the addition of of up to 200 names to the supplementary electoral register in Co Kerry.

A garda superintendent from outside the Kerry district has been appointed to head up the investigation.

The publication of the register, with just under 3,000 additional voters names, was due on Monday but was delayed until lunchtime on Tuesday.

The investigation centres on the Killarney electoral area, it is understood.

The central allegation is that large numbers of registration forms, involving up to 200 additional voters, or voters who were changing address, were stamped by a garda for inclusion on the supplementary electoral register without the presence of the voters, as required.

The matter was raised at a meeting of Kerry County Council on Monday where Garda Commissioner Drew Harris was called on to conduct an “immediate” investigation into allegations surrounding registration forms for the supplementary electoral register.

An Garda Síochána confirmed last week it was carrying out what it termed “preliminary enquires” centring on voter registration forms. However this has now been upgraded to a full investigation.

GSOC, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, said it was aware of the matter, but would not comment on whether it was also involved.

On Wednesday morning the Garda press office confirmed the investigation was underway

“An Garda Síochána are investigating this matter. As this is ongoing we are unable to comment any further”.

Kerry Co Council wrote to the Garda Commissioner on Monday following a call from Independent councillor Brendan Cronin of the Killarney Municipal District, seconded by Toireasa Ferris (Sinn Féin) of Tralee Municipal District, for a full garda investigation. Cllr Cronin said there were now serious legal issues regarding the validity of the supplementary register of voters in the Killarney Municipal District and in the event of a few votes separating candidates, “is wide open to legal challenge”.

The chief executive of Kerry County Council, Moira Murrell said the council had met An Garda Síochána last week and provided them with the information sought as part of its inquiries.

The council would continue to co-operate “100 per cent”. However any investigation was for the gardaí, the chief executive stressed.

Meanwhile the Department of Housing and Local Government said proposals to modernise the electoral register currently under consideration include an optional online registration process in parallel with the existing paper based system; the creation of a unique identifier for individuals; and measures to improve the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of changes to the register information.