€43m set aside for Áras contest and referendums
THE Government has set aside €43m for a presidential election and three referendums next year.
Amid questions over whether Michael D Higgins will seek a second term in Áras an Uachtaráin, money has been allocated for a full election.
Estimates published by the Department of Finance show the presidential vote and referendums will cost €29m in operational expenses and €14m in postage. The figures have led one Fianna Fáil TD to argue that there “isn’t enough currently in the budget” to add in a general election into the mix as well.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has already set out an indicative timetable for referendums next year. These include one for the Eighth Amendment in May or June, followed by ones on blasphemy and woman’s life within the home, which will be held to coincide with a presidential election in October.
In 2011, the country voted in two referendums on the same day as the presidential election, while there was also a by-election.
Fianna Fáil’s Shane Cassells said the “big cost associated with holding elections” shows why they should be grouped together whenever possible.
“There are parties calling for elections every day of the week and you’d wonder whether they pause to think how much they cost and where this money could be used elsewhere.”
The Meath West TD added: “We could be looking at a spend of over €70m next year if you’ve got a stand-alone presidential election, referendum and general election battles.
“There isn’t enough currently in the budget for all of that.”
Michael D Higgins