I wasn’t happy with the response I received from the Dept. of Environment, Heritage and Local Government to my complaint regarding Fianna Fail TD Eamon O’Cuiv so I rang seeking further clarification.
Specifically, I wanted to know; what exactly was the role of the department regarding complaints from the public in respect of suspected breaches of electoral law.
Me: As a senior official in the dept responsible for the proper enforcement of electoral law, have you any concerns whatsoever regarding these events?
Official: When it comes to electoral law we’re forever changing the law on electoral issues. Tweaking here and tweaking there and those tweaks always reflect the fact that there’s something not quite right in the electoral law, that’s how we generally respond to these things.
But in terms of the law there are two approaches, there’s what the law is at the moment and what the law could or should be and we do a lot of entertaining about what the law could or should be and in that regard we would be taking on concerns that people might express.
Me: (In growing astonishment at the answers I was getting) Is it a crime to submit a false name on a nomination paper?
Official: Life isn’t as black or white as all that.
Me: It either is a crime or it’s not or you don’t know.
Official: You’re using very emotive words. It’s the nomination process and you’re supposed to use the name you’re ordinarily known by.
Me: Are you not the regulatory body in charge of electoral law?
Official: Yes, we’re in charge of electoral law.
Me: So it’s up to you to investigate?
Me: It’s not? (Accompanied by astonished laughter).
Official: What I’m willing to do here and I’m perfectly willing to acknowledge is that law as made is never perfect, law is an ongoing process and should be reviewed from time to time.
The information gleaned from this official can be summed up as follows.
The department is forever changing electoral law, tweaking here, tweaking there.
(Irish) Electoral law is never static, there’s what it is at the moment and there’s what it could or should be.
The department is in charge of electoral law but doesn’t investigate complaints.