I DROPPED into the Four Courts once upon a time, to hear the appeal by the anti-Divorce lobby against the result of the last Divorce Referendum. I’m that sad.
The anti-divorce people were arguing for a re-run of the referendum on the grounds that the Government had spent taxpayer’s money promoting one side of the argument.
The Supreme Court had already ruled that such expenditure was unlawful. Everyone that was not a psychopath knew that such spending was wrong and an attempt to interfere with the referendum process.
The result of the referendum was less than one percentage difference between Yes and No.
The anti-divorce people said that it was possible that this one percent could have been influenced by the money unlawfully spent. They were absolutely right but somehow the court said that they were wrong and refused to run the referendum again.
That was the day when my naive belief in the integrity of Irish democracy died – the politicians weren’t going to act fairly and the courts weren’t going to make them.
Last week, the the election spending of TDs was announced.
There is a clear link between spending and results. The two parties which won the election spent the most on their candidates. It is no secret that these parties have been pursuing policies which have enriched the better-off sections of society.
The Fianna Fail/Labour coalition introduced spending limits (presumably at the behest of Labour). Ever since, Fianna Fail have been trying to worm their way out of the spending limits. Before the last election they increased the limits by 50% in the knowledge that only themselves and the PDs would be able to attract such funding from the business sector.
Then they spent hugely before the election campaign, which is a double scam. Firstly, this money doesn’t count as election expenses. Secondly, other parties couldn’t match this spending as they didn’t know when the election day was.
All this casts considerable doubts on whether the Irish electoral process can be described as fair and free.
Surely the conduct of elections should be taken out of the hands of those who have a direct interest in manipulating the wishes of the Irish people.
The problem is: how to get such a reform past the politicians? There’s Catch 22 for you!
Candidates spending my hard-earned cash
A Court decided last November that any state money spend by politicians to get themselves re-elected would have to be included in the election spending limits.
Surely the question is: why should politicians be allowed spend any state money at all?
This is an outrageous abuse of taxpayer’s funds which must surely be unlawful in accordance with the McKenna Judgement.
I’m paying tax so that politicians can use it to convince me to let them spend more of my tax.
You couldn’t make it up.