Commission Updates

Polling day: 25 May 2018

24th of May 2018

Press Release: Referendum Commission calls on voters to use their vote

Commission urges voters to vote and visit refcom2018.ie

The Referendum Commission has today called on voters to use their vote in the referendum taking place tomorrow, Friday, 25th May.

The Commission, which is the independent body set up to explain the proposal of the referendum and promote voter turnout, encourages voters who are unsure about their decision to turn to its independent guide and its website, www.refcom2018.ie, for unbiased facts about the Referendum proposal on the Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy.

Speaking ahead of voting day tomorrow, the Chairperson of the Referendum Commission, Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy said: “The Referendum Commission does not campaign for a yes or a no vote, but we do strongly urge you to inform yourself and to use your vote.  How you vote on this issue is entirely a matter for you to decide, but it is important that you take the opportunity to use your vote.”

Voters should normally receive a polling card in the post before polling day, telling them at which polling station they should cast their vote.  If you are on the electoral register but don’t receive a polling card you are still entitled to vote.   You do not need to have your polling card with you when you go to vote.  However you should bring some valid form of personal identification such as a driving licence, a passport, public services card, an employee identity card with a photograph, a student identity card with a photograph, a travel document with your name and photograph, or a bank, savings or credit union book containing your address in the constituency.

Polling stations will be open from 7am until 10pm on Friday 25th May. In the polling station you will be given a ballot paper.  You vote by marking an ‘X’ in the ‘Yes’ box or ‘No’ box, depending on how you want to vote.

The Referendum Commission Guide can be viewed on its website at www.refcom2018.ie

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15th of May 2018

Deadline to apply to be an ‘Approved Body’’ for the upcoming referendum

The deadline to be an “Approved Body’’ for this upcoming referendum is 5pm, Thursday 17 May 2018. Approved bodies are allowed to have representatives at polling stations and at the count.

Please return the application form which can be found here to the Referendum Commission before the deadline.

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14th of May 2018

Easy-to-read guide available for people with intellectual disabilities to the upcoming referendum

The Referendum Commission has today published for people with intellectual disabilities an easy-to-read guide to the upcoming referendum.

It can be downloaded here.

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14th of May 2018

The chair of the Commission Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy answered listeners question this morning on the forthcoming referendum.

Click here to listen.

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11th of May 2018

Published list of ‘’Approved Bodies’’ for the upcoming referendum

Under Section 7 of the Referendum Act, 1998, the Referendum Commission has approved bodies to appoint agents to be present at the issue of ballot papers to postal voters, at the opening of postal ballot boxes and at the counting of votes at the upcoming referendum.

The current list of approved bodies was published by the Iris Oifigiúil on Friday 11 May 2018 which can be found here.

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24th of April 2018

The chair of the Commission Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy was interviewed on RTE’s Morning Ireland to launch our information campaign

Click here to listen.

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24th of April 2018

Public Information Campaign launched for May 25th referendum on the regulation of termination of pregnancy

The Referendum Commission has today launched its public information campaign giving the facts about the referendum on the termination of pregnancy. The Commission is the independent body set up to explain the referendum proposal, promote public awareness and encourage people to vote.

The campaign will involve a website, www.refcom2018.ie, which will be the central source of information on the referendum. There will also be a printed independent guide which will be distributed to every home across the country. Both will be used to inform people of the detail of the proposed change to the Constitution.

The Commission last night (Monday 23 April) published on its website an explanation of the current legal position in relation to the termination of pregnancy, the proposed change, the legal effect of a Yes vote and the legal effect of a No vote. This information will also be in the printed guide to be delivered to all 2.2 million homes in the State during the first two weeks of May.

The Chair of the Referendum Commission Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy said: “Between now and May 25th there will undoubtedly be a lively debate between those advocating a Yes vote and a No vote. Our role is not to debate the merits or otherwise of the arguments of either side, but to provide an independent, neutral account of what is being proposed, so that voters can be properly informed.”

The Commission is running an extensive advertising campaign on TV, radio, online, in newspapers, and on outdoor sites over the coming weeks.

The Commission said today that there is an urgent need for people to check the electoral register to make sure they are on it and that their details are correct. If the details are not correct there is time to make appropriate changes, however that needs to be done by May 8th at the latest. Ms Justice Kennedy said: “At every election and referendum there are many people who can’t vote because they are not registered. There are also many people who have moved house but remain registered at their old address.

“So check the electoral register online at checktheregister.ie, or by contacting your local authority office. If you are not on it you can download the relevant form, or ask your local authority office to send it to you. You must complete it, bring it to your local Garda station to have your identity certified, and ensure it gets to your local authority before May 8th. That closing date falls just after a Bank Holiday weekend so our strong advice would be to do all this well before then and indeed, to do it today.”

According to the Commission, the current position is that Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, means that it is lawful for a pregnancy to be terminated only where the pregnancy poses a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother. This includes a risk of suicide. The proposal to be voted upon on May 25th is to delete Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution and to insert in its place that “Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy”.

If a majority votes Yes, this will allow the Oireachtas to pass laws regulating the termination of pregnancy in circumstances not limited to the presence of a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother, including the risk of suicide.

If a majority votes No then the situation will remain in which laws may be passed to provide for the termination of pregnancy only where there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother, including the risk of suicide.

The Commission’s guide can be read at www.refcom2018.ie, and it can also be downloaded there. The Referendum Commission also has a dedicated phone line 1890 270 970. The Guide and website will feature text in both English and Irish. The guide will also be available in Braille, Irish Sign Language DVDs, audio CDs and large print versions of the guide in the coming weeks.

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30th of March 2018

Referendum Commission Chair explains role

The Chair of the Referendum Commission has explained the Commission’s role, saying they will explain the proposal and encourage voting, but has no power to regulate campaign funding, spending or advertising.

In an article published in The Irish Times, Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy says the Commission will shortly run an advertising campaign urging people to check the register and ensure they can vote. They will also publish a full explanation of the referendum proposal on this website, and in a guide booklet to be delivered to 2.2 million homes across the country.

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9th of March 2018

Referendum Commission established for poll on regulation of termination of pregnancy

The Government has established a Referendum Commission in relation to the forthcoming referendum on the regulation of the termination of pregnancy. 

Under the Referendum Act 1998, the Minister for Housing Planning and Local Government may establish a referendum commission in respect of a referendum.  The role of the Commission is to explain the referendum proposal, to promote awareness of the referendum and to encourage people to vote.

In accordance with law the Chief Justice has nominated the Hon. Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy to act as Chairperson to the Commission.

The other members of the Commission are:

  • the Comptroller and Auditor General (Mr Seamus McCarthy),
  • the Ombudsman (Mr Peter Tyndall),
  • the Clerk of the Dáil (Mr Peter Finnegan), and
  • the Clerk of the Seanad (Mr Martin Groves).

As well as explaining the proposal, promoting awareness and encouraging voting, the Commission will consider and rule on applications from bodies or groups for declaration as approved bodies who may appoint agents at the referendum to be present at polling stations and at the counting of votes.

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Check the Register

Registration to vote is closed. If you are not sure whether you are registered to vote in the referendum, or whether or not you are registered at the correct address, you can find out very simply by checking the electoral register.