Saturday 18 January 2020

Supreme Court decision tomorrow on children’s referendum spending

Aodhan O'Faolain

THE Supreme Court will give its judgment tomorrow in an appeal brought against the High Court's dismissal of a challenge to the Government’s €1.1m spend on the children’s referendum information campaign.













The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, last week dismissed the action brought by Mark McCrystal, Kilbarrack Road, Dublin, who claims the Government’s information campaign breached the 1995 Supreme Court judgment on the McKenna case requiring referendum to be explained to the public impartially.



The judge found material used in the Government’s campaign was “neutral, balanced and had the primary aim of informing the public about the forthcoming referendum”.



Mr McCrystal's appeal was heard by a five-judge Supreme Court.



Today, following the conclusion of submissions from both parties, the court reserved its decision until tomorrow.





In his appeal Mr McCrystal, represented by Richard Humphreys SC. argued that the High Court erred in holding that the material his cleint complained of was balanced and neutral. Counsel also argued that if that judgment was allowed stand the principles as set out in the McKenna judgment "would be deprived of any substantial bite, reality and meaning as far as citizens are concerned."



The state, represented by David Hardiman SC, has opposed the appeal. He argued that the material, which must be looked at in the broadest of terms, does not breach the McKenna judgment in a manner that would render the Government spending public money on an information campaign unconstitutional.

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