- McKenna judgement important to safeguard democratic debate
- Tax payers’ money must not be used to fund government side in referendum campaigns
Socialist Party / United Left Alliance MEP Paul Murphy today responded to comments made by Fine Gael chairman Charlie Flanagan TD that the McKenna judgement is “a nonsense”:
“The McKenna judgement is an important democratic safeguard that ensures that a proper debate takes place during referendum campaigns. It enables the public to hear both sides of the debate, regardless of the financial resources and political influence of either side.
“Mr Flanagan’s argument that the government should be allowed to spend taxpayers’ money to promote a vote in a referendum is a worrying development. Ever since the the McKenna judgement, the political establishment has resented not being able to use taxpayers’ money to fund their own campaign and has deliberately pushed the boundaries, for example with the government funded referendum website on the Fiscal Treaty.
“Allowing the government to spend taxpayers’ money to promote one side of a referendum debate would give the government an unrivalled advantage over its opponents in the referendum and would be highly undemocratic. The point of a referendum is that it is for the people to decide and in advance of them deciding at the ballot box, public funds should not be used to promote either side.
“Notwithstanding the circumstances that Mr Flanagan raises in relation to the Children’s referendum, he is showing a brazen contempt for a judgement that acts as a defence of the democratic process from government abuse.”