Fianna Fáil TD for Kildare North James Lawless says the Government needs to establish a permanent Electoral Commission to help address a number of issues surrounding political campaigning and the holding of elections and referendums.

Deputy Lawless made the comments after raising the issue in the Dáil with Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy. Deputy Lawless called on Minister Murphy to deliver on the Government’s commitment to establish a permanent Electoral Commission.

Deputy Lawless said, “A number of Government reports have recommended the establishment of a permanent Electoral Commission to help aid our democratic process. The Programme for Government committed to establishing such a commission but no firm details or timeline have been provided to help achieve this.

“An Electoral Commission would take over the responsibility for a number of practical matters such as maintaining the electoral register, proposing changes to constituency boundaries, monitoring campaign financing and promoting voter participation.

“It would also help deal with a number of issues specifically relating to campaigning such as whether limits should be placed on the use of campaign posters, the lack of spending caps in referendum campaigns, whether the broadcasting moratorium is practical given the emergence of social media and the lack of regulation in relation to online campaigning. These are important issues that need to be addressed by an Electoral Commission.

“A permanent Electoral Commission independent of the Government and accountable to the Oireachtas is urgently needed. The Government needs to deliver on its commitment in this regard,” concluded Deputy Lawless.