The Legal Advisor to the Fianna Fáil Frontbench, Jim O’Callaghan SC, has accused the Government parties of running a completely inept campaign on the proposal to reduce the age of candidates eligible to run for President.
The Fianna Fáil Councillor explained, “The forthcoming referendum seeking an amendment to the constitutional requirement that presidential candidates be 35 years of age is unique. Never before has a Government proposed a change to the Constitution and then completely fail to campaign in favour of that proposal.
“This has been the most inept referendum campaign ever run in the history of the State. Not a poster, a speech or a leaflet from the proposing Government parties telling us why we should support this proposed amendment. The opposition parties have not actively campaigned on the issue either. However, the opposition did not propose this amendment and can hardly be criticised for not enthusiastically campaigning for a proposal that the Government parties have ignored.
“If the Government’s failure to campaign in favour of the referendum causes the proposal to be defeated, the cost of printing, distributing and counting millions of ballot papers will have been wasted.
“The reason why the Government parties are running such an inept campaign is that neither Government party cares about the result. The only reason this expensive folly is being forced on the Irish people is because the Government wanted to pretend to have regard to the Constitutional Convention and to pay lip-service to the principle of constitutional reform.
“Proposing insubstantial and insignificant amendments to our Constitution is not simply a waste of public money; it also undermines the significance of the referendum process. Where you have an insignificant proposal combined with Government parties that have done nothing even to feign interest in support for their proposal, you have very good reasons to vote against the amendment.”