Wednesday 26 October 2016

Court of Appeal dismisses two challenges against Same Sex Marriage Referendum result

Published 30/07/2015 | 20:29

Yes voters celebrate at the Central Count Centre in Dublin castle, Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA Wire)
Yes voters celebrate at the Central Count Centre in Dublin castle, Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA Wire)

THE Court of Appeal has cleared the way for the introduction of same sex marriage after dismissing two separate applications challenging the Yes result of the recent referendum.

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The decision means the referendum returning officer can now issue the certificate confirming the result of the May 22 same sex marriage poll. A stay on the issuing of that certificate had applied pending the appeal court’s ruling and has now been lifted.

After a one day today, the thee judge court rejected arguments by Gerry Walshe, an electrician, of Lisdeen, Co Clare, that he had established the necessary grounds to bring a petition.

The court also found Maurice J. Lyons, a gardener, of Callan, Co Kilkenny, had made out no basis entitling him to bring a petition.

Read more here: Court of Appeal to hear challenge to Marriage Equality Referendum result  

The court awarded costs against both men.

The appeal court ruled there was no basis on which it could grant leave for a petition to be brought by either man. A number of supporters of the Yes and No campaigns were in court.

Mr Walshe had provided no evidence to support his claims the outcome was affected by an unlawful spend of public monies, president of the court, Mr Justice Sean Ryan said.

Mr Walshe had claimed millions of euro were provided to various organisations, including charities, but had provided no proof any such monies were public monies, he said.

Mr Walshe had also not established any wrongdoing or irregularity, as required under the Referendum Act, for a petition to be brought.

Claims that the referendum process was invalidated by identifying marks on ballot papers which damaged the secrecy of the ballot were based on a “completely mistaken” view of the relevant law which provides each paper should have a mark, he said.

Other complaints about An Post issuing a St Valetine’s Day Love stamp with an equality symbol, which Mr Walshe alleged amounted to a “subliminal message” in favour of a Yes vote, were also dismissed.

Dealing with Mr Lyons’ appeal, the judge said arguments the Constitution could only be amended by a proposal initiated by the people themselves were based on a “fundamental misunderstanding” of what the Constitution says, what it means and what the powers of the courts are.

Mr Lyons also erred in arguing the sovereign people cannot approve amendments that contradict other provisions of the Constitution as any amendments approved were a matter for the people, the judge said.

The judge rejected further arguments that those members of the electorate who do not vote in referendums must be regarded as no voters.

Mr Lyons’ arguments in that regard were “contrary to principle” and “contrary to common sense”.

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