The Referendum Commission has urged the people of Tipperary to get the facts and vote as it begins its public information campaign about the proposals to abolish the Seanad and to set up a new Court of Appeal. Voters will decide in referendums on Friday 4 October whether or not to approve these proposals.
The Commission has set up a website, referendum2013.ie, which uses video and text to detail the proposed changes and to give background information. There will also be a printed Guide delivered to every household in the State, information through the press and social media, and a major advertising campaign on TV, radio, newspapers, outdoor and online.
Commenting at the launch of the campaign, the Commission Chairperson Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne said: “We aim to ensure all voters in Tipperary can inform themselves of the proposed changes to the Constitution in relation to the Seanad and the proposed Court of Appeal. There has been some public debate on the Seanad proposal, but much less so far on the Court of Appeal. Both are important issues.
“The Referendum Commission provides neutral and independent information. We don’t argue for a Yes or a No vote but we try to help voters to inform themselves, and we strongly encourage them to vote.”
Seanad Éireann Proposal
If the Seanad referendum is passed, the Seanad will be abolished after the next General Election. It would mean that in future, laws would have to be passed only by the Dáil, before being sent to the President to be signed. At the moment, for a law to be made in Ireland a Bill must be passed by the two Houses of the Oireachtas: the Dáil and the Seanad.
There would be some other changes to the Constitution to remove references to the Seanad, and to make new arrangements to deal with certain functions in which the Seanad currently has a role.
Court of Appeal Proposal
If the Court of Appeal referendum is passed, a new Court of Appeal will be set up at a level between the High Court and the Supreme Court. It would deal with most appeals which are currently dealt with by the Supreme Court. In some cases the Supreme Court could hear a further appeal, and it could also decide to hear an appeal directly from the High Court. The referendum on the Court of Appeal also includes a proposal to change how the Supreme Court gives its decision in certain cases.
The Referendum Commission Guide is also available online on its website at www.referendum2013.ie. It also has a dedicated phone line 1890 270 970. The Guide and website will feature text in both English and Irish. Voters who have difficulty accessing conventional information material, can inform themselves via the versions of the Guide in Braille, Irish Sign Language DVDs, audio CDs and large print versions of the guide. The Commission will also be using Irish Sign Language on some of its television advertisements.
The other elements of the Commission’s public information campaign, which will begin early next week, will include advertising appearing on radio, television, in newspapers and online giving brief explanations of the proposal.