National Party fails in bid to be granted ‘approved body’ status in referendums

Fringe group is only one of six parties that applied that was not granted approved-body status by Electoral Commission

The fringe, right-wing National Party has failed in a bid to be recognised as an approved body in the forthcoming referendums on the family and care.

In a ruling delivered on Wednesday, the Electoral Commission said it had made a determination not to grant a declaration of approved body status to the National Party for the referendums on March 8th.

It is the only one of six parties which have applied that was not granted status. The commission granted approval to Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, the Green Party and Ireland First.

Approved bodies can appoint agents to be present at the issuing of ballot papers to postal voters, the opening of postal voters’ ballot papers and at the counting of votes.


The agents can also attend at each polling station (one person per polling station) to assist election officials in detecting the electoral offence of personation.

The commission has been contacted for comment on why the application was refused.

Electoral Registrar Art O’Leary, who is also chief executive of the Electoral Commission, is in the process of deliberating on which of two conflicting factions in the right-wing National Party has the right to use the party name going into the local and European elections.

The party’s entry on the register names Justin Barrett and James Reynolds as the authorised officers of the National Party. Its address is given as Mr Barrett’s home address in Granard, Co Longford.

Last July, then deputy leader Mr Reynolds and his supporters issued a statement saying Mr Barrett had been removed from his position of leader of the party. The statement cited a lack of confidence and a hands-off leadership style that had “allowed the party to go to seed”.

In a bizarre twist, Mr Barrett made a complaint to the Garda the following week that gold bars worth an estimated €400,000 had been removed from a vault in Dublin by the other faction. The bullion was recovered by gardaí, which then tried to establish its legal ownership. The other faction said it had transferred the gold to another vault to prevent Mr Barrett gaining access to it.

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Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times