Dáil Éireann - Volume 566 - 14 May, 2003
Written Answers. - Referendum Commission.
Mr. Broughan Mr. Broughan
128. Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government his views on the recommendation of the Referendum Commission for the establishment of a new permanent body to deal with voter apathy and lack of knowledge, especially in regard to the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12949/03]
Mr. Gallagher Mr. Gallagher
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment and Local Government (Mr. Gallagher): The recent Referendum Commission report includes a recommendation concerning a mechanism for research and information on possible developments in the areas of holding referendums and increasing voter participation. In the recommendation, the commission expresses broad agreement with the thrust of a submission made by two private parties for the establishment of a new commission on a full-time basis to promote these functions.
The need for research on possible developments in the area of holding referendums is not spelt out in detail in the Referendum Commission report and I propose to seek further clarification of this matter.
As regards voter participation, one of the existing functions of the Referendum Commission is to promote public awareness of a referendum and encourage the electorate to vote at the poll. The experience gained by the commission will inform it of best practice for future referendums. My Department also sponsors information campaigns each year to encourage voters to ensure that they are registered both at register compilation stage and in the context of the supplement of the register. On voter education, my Department has made available, free of charge, several brochures on elections and referendums here.
While I do not consider that the need for a full-time commission as suggested has been fully established, I will have the matter considered having regard to the commission's report, the recent changes in electoral and referendum legislation and the results of the CSO Quarterly National Household Survey on Voter Participation and Abstention.
Dáil Éireann 566 Written Answers. Referendum Commission.