As you are aware the recent referendum on Children’s Rights was passed by the people, it is now part of Bunreacht na hÉireann.

However, the validity of the referendum result is being challenged in the courts and has been the subject of broad discussion among individuals and groups concerned with the issue of democracy.

On 19th November a challenge was initiated by Brophy Solicitors in Dublin, on behalf of clients who claim that the Government’s promotion of a YES vote amounted to wrongful conduct that materially affected the outcome of the referendum”.

During the referendum debate Mark McCrystal took a case to the Supreme Court seeking judgement that Government spending to promote a YES vote amounted to an illegal use of public funds – because they were not wholly impartial.  This challenge was based on the 1995 Supreme Court judgment in the McKenna case requiring referendums to be explained to the public in an impartial manner.

Just days before the referendum itself the Supreme Court ruled that “extensive passages” of the Government’s information leaflets and campaign material were biased towards a YES vote.  The Supreme Court ruled that the government had “acted wrongfully” in spending money on a website which was “not fair, equal or impartial”.

So, was democracy served in this referendum?

The Supreme Court has stated that the Government did not act fairly or impartially in conducting the referendum …  so is the result safe and valid?  Is the result the freely expressed will of the people?

The McKenna judgement in 1995, the Crotty judgement of 1987, the re-run of several referendums since and now the Government’s handling of the Children’s Referendum all raise serious questions about our democracy.

Is our right to vote valid only when we “get it right”, do we need to be instructed on how to vote … consider on top of that recent statements on the status of election promises by Government ministers!

BROPHY SOLICITORS have asked that anyone believing their vote, either for, against or abstention was influenced by the Governments dishonesty in the referendum to contact them directly.  The solicitors are looking for people to make statements and possibly later go before the court as witness, if that is required.

This is a link to a letter Brophy Solicitors addressed to Kathy Sinnott, please review if you have an interest in this question.