Court rules against Sinn Fein treaty poll challenge

The High Court in Dublin has ruled against Sinn Fein's challenge to the Fiscal Treaty Referendum.

Donegal TD Pearse Doherty lodged a judicial review seeking a withdrawal of statements made by the Referendum Commission during the campaign.

The comments were made in relation to the EU's permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism.

Mr Doherty contended that they gave the impression Ireland could not veto the ESM.

The statements were made on 3 May and 18 May.

In the High Court, Mr Justice Gerard Hogan said there was no difference between two statements by the commission, as had been alleged.

And he said the commission had acted in a sincere, genuine and measured way to the best of what he called its "very considerable ability".

In an affidavit, Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty had alleged that some of the commission's statements were inaccurate and were biased towards the Yes side.

The outcome of the case has no bearing on the holding of the 31 May referendum.


Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, Foreign Affairs Minister and deputy prime minister, said the challenge was a last-ditch attempt to cause confusion among the public.

Mr Gilmore said: "I believe that this was a stunt by Sinn Fein in the final days of their campaign to maximise their own publicity and in order to create confusion just as the broadcast moratorium was about to come out."

The Republic of Ireland is the only country in Europe holding a referendum on the treaty as it is obliged to put major EU reforms to the public test according to the constitution.

Only three states have ratified the treaty in full - Greece, Portugal and Slovenia - while six others have begun the process including Germany, Poland, Latvia, Romania, Austria and Denmark. The ratification must be completed by the end of the year.