Saturday 14 December 2019

Referenda for Aras poll day but no by-election date

Fionnan Sheahan

The Government has decided to hold two referenda alongside the presidential election on the same day in the autumn.

The Government decided yesterday that they will take place on Thursday, October 27 next.

However, there is still some doubt over the holding of the by-election to replace the late Brian Lenihan.

The referenda to be held will be a change to the Constitution to allow judges' pay to be cut and an amendment in response to the Abbeylara judgement to give greater powers to Oireachtas inquiries.

But the promised referendum to give protection to whistleblowers was dropped.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan said there would be a third referendum on the day, but a Government spokesman contradicted this view saying: "As of now, there are two referenda on the day of the election."

Mr Hogan did not give any commitment on holding the Dublin West by-election.

But a new law, which came into effect this week, dictates that a by-election must be held within six months of a vacancy arising.

The law means the Government has until the end of January 2011 to hold the by-election, so it is still possible that polling will take place on the day of the presidential election.

Student representatives in the country's largest college said the decision to hold the election on a Thursday was "reckless and divisive".

UCD Students Union President Pat de Brun said a Thursday voting day "removes the chance for third level students who live away from home to exercise their right to vote".

Irish Independent

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