Saturday 25 March 2017

Court rejects challenges to marriage referendum

Maurice J Lyons and Gerry Walshe, who brought legal applications to
challenge the results of the referendum on same-sex marriage. Photos: Courtpix
Maurice J Lyons and Gerry Walshe, who brought legal applications to challenge the results of the referendum on same-sex marriage. Photos: Courtpix
Gerry Walshe

Tim Healy

A gardener and an electrician have failed in separate High Court bids to challenge the Yes result of last month's same-sex marriage referendum.

The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, said neither Gerry Walshe nor Maurice J Lyons had met the requirements of the 1994 Referendum Act to bring such challenges.

Both men had represented themselves.

After the ruling, both Mr Walshe and Mr Lyons opposed applications by the State and Referendum Commission for costs against them on grounds they brought their applications on behalf of the people and in the "national interest".

However, Mr Justice Kearns said there were no exceptional circumstances which would allow costs not to be awarded against the applicants.

Mr Lyons, a gardener from Callan, Co Kilkenny, had argued the amendment conflicted with the Christian ethos of the Constitution, specifically in relation to the position of women in the home. Mr Justice Kearns said this went to the content of the amendment, an area the court had no power to address.

The judge dismissed other arguments by Mr Lyons that those people who did not go out to vote had in effect voted No and therefore the sovereign people had not approved the same-sex marriage amendment.

Further arguments that people were inadequately informed of the proposal were also rejected.

In a separate case, Mr Walshe, an electrician from Lisdeen, Co Clare, claimed the Government had shown partiality in the referendum campaign, based on photographs of Yes posters put up by Fine Gael and Labour outside supermarkets in his native Co Clare.

However, Mr Justice Kearns ruled this could not possibly constitute evidence of partiality or wrongful allocation of public funds by the Government.

The relevant law was the Government cannot allocate central funds to advocate a position in a referendum.

However, that did not prohibit the Government campaigning for a Yes vote, he said.

The judge also ruled that issues about the content of ballot papers could not be raised in this application.

Irish Independent

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