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Sinn Féin takes action on legality of government information campaign

26 April, 2012 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

The Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has confirmed that the party’s solicitors have written to the Attorney General and the Taoiseach asking for copies of the Government’s referendum booklet and leaflet due to be circulated to all households in advance of the referendum.

Deputy McDonald said:

“Despite Government claims to the contrary Sinn Féin is concerned that the referendum information to be distributed to the electorate by the Government at public expense will be partisan in nature, with the intent of securing a “Yes” vote from the people.

“Just this week the Government launched its information website which contained speeches by Government Ministers advocating reasons why people should vote in favour of the referendum. The fact is the Government cannot use public monies to promote a Yes vote in the referendum, directly or indirectly.

“Distributing information on the Austerity Treaty is the responsibility of the Referendum Commission and the Government is undermining its work by producing its own publicly funded information campaign. Not only is this a partisan misuse of tax payers’ money, but it may also be in breach of the McKenna judgement.

“Only when Sinn Féin criticised the Government yesterday for including Government Ministers’ speeches on the referendum website did they then remove the offending documents. It is simply not good enough that political opposition is left to police the Government on such matters. Precedence has been set by the McKenna judgment and the Referendum Commission should be let get on with its work.

“Sinn Féin’s legal team has today written to both the Taoiseach and the Attorney General seeking copies of the proposed public information booklet and leaflet the Government intends to distribute to every household in the State.

“We have also requested full details of the level of expenditure being incurred by the Department of the Taoiseach in campaigning for a Yes vote and, in particular, details of the expenditure involved in the creation and operation of and the related social media sites together with the cost of commissioning of the promotional videos which advocate a “Yes” vote.”

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