Letter in today’s Irish Times.
At the launch of the information campaign by the Referendum Commission on May 13th last the three principal functions of the Commission, as laid down in the Referendum Act, 2001, were clearly outlined:
1. To explain the subject matter of the referendum.
2. To use all means at the commission’s disposal to publish the explanations to as many people as possible.
3. To promote public awareness and encourage people to vote.
The chairman, Mr Justice O’Neill, said: “We are not going to supervise, control or try to influence the debate beyond discharging our statutory function to explain what’s in the treaty.”
However, he also indicated that the commission would be monitoring the debate and issuing clarifying statements if it was the commission’s considered view that people were being confused or misled.
To date, the commission has announced its “considered position” on taxation, neutrality, abortion, qualified majority voting and the retention of a veto on any future WTO deal.
These are all issues that No campaigners see as critical in their attempt to convince voters to reject the treaty.
So far, the commission has issued no clarifying statements regarding claims made by the Yes campaign, such as Garret FitzGerald’s assertion that we will become the pariahs of the EU and Minister Ryan’s claim that Europe would face chaos if the treaty is rejected. – Yours, etc,