€43m set aside for Áras con­test and ref­er­en­dums

Irish Independent - - News - Kevin Doyle

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

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