News & Media

Minister must act to sort out Electoral Register

14 January 2020

Statement by Brendan Howlin TD
Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Brexit, Northern Ireland and Justice

MURPHY MUST ISSUE INSTRUCTIONS TO ENSURE UNIFORM AND LEGAL VOTER REGISTRATION PROCEDURES

Labour Party Leader Brendan Howlin has called on the Minister for Local Government to fix the problems with the Electoral Register by using the powers granted to him under Section 18 of the Electoral Act.

Deputy Howlin said:

“Fine Gael have created the mess with the electoral register and must now fix it. The new register will be published on 1 February and will come into force immediately after midnight on 14 February but an election will be held on the 8th.

“Therefore last year’s register remains in force. There are thousands of people whose names are on the new register, but it still has draft status.

"People will have applied to get onto the new register, but they won’t be listed until this election is over. While people can then apply for the supplementary register, it requires Garda verification.

"The Taoiseach and Minister Eoghan Murphy would both have known well that this election would take place days before the new register comes into force. The issue cannot at this stage be solved by amendments to the legislation.

“The Minister has the power under law to resolve this. It is imperative that all local authorities are doing the same thing and the Minister has a responsibility to make sure they are.

“Under section 18 of the Electoral Act 1992, the Minister may issue to local authorities any instructions in relation to the registration of electors, ‘in order to ensure the smooth and efficient registration of electors and to secure uniformity of procedure in regard thereto’ in all areas.

“I am calling on the Minister to issue instructions under section 18, to ensure that all councils resolve the issue uniformly and in accordance with law.”

ENDS

Section 18 of the Electoral Act 1992:

(1) The Minister may, whenever he thinks proper so to do, issue to all or any registration authorities or authority such instructions in relation to the registration of electors as he shall consider necessary or expedient in order to ensure the smooth and efficient registration of electors and to secure uniformity of procedure in regard thereto in all registration areas.

(2) Subject to subsection (3), it shall be the duty of every registration authority to observe and comply with all instructions given to them by the Minister.

(3) No registration authority shall be required or authorised by an instruction given by the Minister under this section to do any act (whether of commission or omission) which is contrary to this Act.