| 11.2°C Dublin

FG set to spend just s150k on children's vote

Fine Gael plans to spend a lot less on the children's referendum than on previous campaigns.

The party has set aside only €150,000 for publicity and posters to campaign on behalf of children. This is half what Fine Gael appears to have spent on the EU stability treaty referendum.

And its children's vote budget is dwarfed by what the party spent on the Lisbon Two referendum, when the party ploughed several hundred thousand euro into that campaign.

Fine Gael's director of elections Leo Varadkar has disclosed that €150,000 will be spent on posters and publicity.

But in the previous referendum, Simon Coveney had set out a €250,000 budget for the party, but that figure increased "substantially" as that campaign wore on, a party spokesman conceded last night.

The spokesman said that it can be very difficult to quantify overall spending on a referendum campaign.

He said circumstances can change in the run-up to the vote, which can require considerably more resources to be spent.

Defending the relatively small initial budget for the children's vote, he said Fine Gael had championed children for a long time and was the first party to appoint a junior minister for children when Austin Currie was selected by the Rainbow Coalition.

"We were also the first party to appoint a senior Cabinet minister for children," he said, adding that Frances Fitzgerald had demonstrated she has enormous credibility in this area.


Mr Varadkar said recently the Government had learned its lesson from the failed referendum that was supposed to beef up powers given to Oireachtas committees.

A spokesman for the minister told the Herald: "The overall debate is still at a very early stage and the dynamic has not yet become clear, particularly the arguments of the No campaign. Fine Gael has learned lessons from previous campaigns and is determined to be more flexible in its approach.

"That's why we have committed resources to an initial approach to the campaign but built in a flexibility that will allow us to respond as the campaign progresses.

"We want to ensure that we run a campaign which gets the message across effectively."

The party so far has ordered 10,000 posters for the children's rights vote.

The posters already printed include some in Irish to be deployed in Gaeltacht areas.