Monday 19 February 2018

MEPs claim voters have been 'intimidated' into supporting Yes campaign, call for EU intervention

The European Union Parliament
The European Union Parliament

David Kearns

Irish voters have been subjected to a campaign of “fear and intimidation” in the lead-up to the marriage equality referendum, a group of European politicians have claimed.

In an open letter to the President of the European Parliament on May 19, several MEPs have asked its President, Martin Schulz, to intervene against the referendum. 

“As you might be aware of, the Irish citizens will vote this Friday 22 May in a referendum aimed at amending the Irish Constitution… unfortunately, a climate of fear and intimidation has pervaded throughout the campaign, creating electoral conditions that are far from free and fair,” it writes.

With the exception of the non-aligned Edouard Ferrand from France’s Front National, the signatories of the letter are all members of the European Conservatives and Reformist Group.

Included are Germany’s Beatrix von Storch and Arne Gericke, Branislav Skripek from Slovakia, and Poland’s Marek Jurek and Kazimier Ujazdowski.

“What has taken place in Ireland over the past few months is unacceptable for an EU member state,” they write.

Each of the signatories has campaigned against gay rights in the European Parliament
Each of the signatories has campaigned against gay rights in the European Parliament

The MEPs claim that all Irish political parties are campaigning for the Yes side and “have threatened their members with expulsion unless they follow the party line.”

They warn that the multinational corporations based in Ireland are forcing their Irish employees to campaign for the Yes side, under a “veiled threat that is not hard to detect… [given] a difficult period for the Irish economy.”

Most disturbing of all, the letter claims, is that the Gardai are actively involved in supporting the Yes campaign.

It reads: "[This is] particularly sinister considering that the police in Ireland are charged with securing the integrity of the voting stations and the vote counting procedure.”

The letter ends with a call for President Schulz to intervene in the referendum, as “its integrity... has been seriously compromised.”

“This attitude to democracy is contradictory to core values of European Union, therefore we appeal, Mr President, for your intervention which we perceive indispensable.”

Each of the signatories has a history of opposition to gay rights both in the European Parliament and in their home country.

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