Confusion over the extent and boundaries of the new European Parliament constituencies could lead to a lower than expected turnout on May 23rd or result in an increase in the number of spoiled votes, Fianna Fáil’s MEP candidate for Midlands North West, Thomas Byrne, has warned.
“I am calling on Minister Phil Hogan to start an immediate publicity and information campaign so that voters will know exactly which European constituency they are voting in. I am well aware that the Minister may have his eyes on a big job in Europe, but he needs to finish his day job here first. Will a botched European election join Minister Hogan’s lengthening list of ‘own goals’ – alongside household charges, the property tax, water and septic tank charges or Irish Water? The usual bland official notices by Returning Officers need to be supplemented by a proper advertising campaign.
Senator Byrne said, “I am concerned at the number of people I have met on my campaign that seem confused about which European constituency they are now in and which candidates they can vote for. The last Boundary Commission Report resulted in massive shifts of population and moved entire counties into new European constituencies and these have never been properly publicised or explained to voters. For example, the new Midlands North West constituency contains fifteen counties, from Clogherhead in county Louth, to the Aran Islands in the west and up to Malin Head in county Donegal. Party members, political activists and the media may have followed the changes closely, but voters need to be clear as well.
“The May elections across Europe for a new Parliament are a massive exercise in democracy. They reflect the increased importance of the Parliament as a law-making institution that affects people’s lives in many ways. For Ireland’s credibility, and to give our MEPs a strong mandate, we need to encourage the highest possible turnout of voters. Ireland needs to play its part and get it right. Will Minister Phil Hogan?