Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 10 November 2015
Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht: Select Sub-Committee on the Environment, Community and Local Government
Electoral (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2015: Committee Stage
We will start our meeting now because we are assured it is being broadcast, although we cannot see it on the screen.
As we have a quorum of three Teachtaí Dála, we will commence the meeting. Is that agreed? Agreed.
I remind members to turn off their mobile telephones as they can interfere with the sound system and make it difficult for the parliamentary reporters to report the meeting and also adversely affect television coverage and web-streaming. I also remind members that this meeting will be conducted in public session. The meeting has been convened for the purpose of the consideration by this select sub-committee of the Electoral (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2015. Is that agreed? Agreed. This Bill was referred to the Select Sub-Committee on the Environment Community and Local Government on 22 October 2015. The Bill has five sections and four amendments are proposed to it. The aim of the Bill is to amend and extend the Seanad Electoral (University Members) Act 1937, the Seanad Electoral (Panel Members) Act 1947 and the Electoral Act 1992.
I welcome the Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Ann Phelan, and her officials to the meeting. Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire Stáit. I remind officials that they should not speak at this meeting, only the Minister of State should speak, and I thank them for their attendance.
It is proposed to group the amendments Nos. 1, 3 and 4 for the purpose of this debate. All other amendments, which are not grouped, will be discussed individually.
I move amendment No. 1:
In page 6, after line 44, to insert the following:
4. (1) The Fourth Schedule to the Electoral Act 1992 is amended by substituting for the form of a ballot paper (within the meaning of that Act) specified in Part II of that Schedule (as modified by Regulation 7 of the Electoral Regulations 2007 (S.I. No. 156 of 2007)) the form specified in the Schedule.(2) Regulation 7 of, and the Fifth Schedule to, the Electoral Regulations 2007 (S.I. No. 156 of 2006) are revoked.”.
I will address the error to which the Vice Chairman has referred in my speaking notes. Government amendment No. 1 provides for a revised form of ballot paper to be used at Dáil elections. This amendment will have the effect of replacing the current format of the ballot paper for Dáil elections that is specified in the Electoral Regulations 2007. Regulation 5 and the Fifth Schedule to those regulations will be revoked. Part 2 of the Fourth Schedule to the Electoral Act 1992 will be replaced by the Schedule to this Bill. I take this opportunity to inform the committee that the reference to the Electoral Regulations 2007 in section 4(2) in the amendment, as published, is incorrect. It should read "S.I. No 156 of 2007", not 2006. This will be corrected in the next publication of the Bill.
Amendments Nos. 3 and 4 are technical in nature to facilitate the insertion of the new section 4 in the Bill. As I said during the debate on Second Stage, the Minister committed last April to a review of the ballot paper for Dáil elections. At that time Deputy Stanton raised concerns about voters misplacing their marks on the ballot paper.
At present, political party emblems are placed along the left-hand side of the ballot paper. In the case of non-party candidates the space for the emblem is required to be left blank. It is reported that some voters express their voting preferences by placing their marks in these boxes in the left-hand column. While it is understood that such marks may not necessarily make a ballot paper invalid we are of the view that any potential confusion should be eliminated where possible.
In the review of the Dáil election ballot paper officials in the Department also consulted with the National Adult Literacy Association and with the National Council for the Blind. Both of these organisations assisted my Department in producing a revised form of ballot paper for use at the referendums last May. The revised form of the ballot paper should help voters to avoid misplacing voting preferences and it should be more user-friendly for voters with visual and literacy difficulties.
The main change proposed is to move the space for including the emblem of a political party from the left-hand side of the ballot paper to a new location to the left-hand side of the photograph, and that can be seen on the ballot paper. There will therefore be no boxes along the left-hand side of the ballot paper. The boxes for marking will remain on the right-hand side of the ballot paper. This should help voters avoid misplacing voting preferences as there is only one box that can be marked for each candidate after voters have read across, from left to right, all of the information on each candidate.
The National Adult Literacy Association has confirmed the view that people read and work naturally from left to right so voters should start on the left reading the candidate details, then see the emblem and photograph, if provided, and then mark their preferences all on the right. The boxes in which voters indicate their preferences will be "floating boxes" in order to draw the eye of the voter to the correct place for marking the ballot paper. As members can note from the Schedule set out in amendment No. 4, these boxes will be emphasised with bold print on the borders.
With respect to other changes, the new format provides for two more small changes in the format. On the recommendation of the National Council for the Blind, the use of italics in the instructions on the front of the ballot paper will cease and the parentheses around the name and occupation of the candidate will be removed. The opportunity is also being taken to provide for both Irish and English to be used on the back of the ballot paper and the back of the counterfoil.
I have a question concerning the Minister of State's last comment. Does that mean that a person could vote on either side of the ballot paper? The Minister of State said that Irish is provided on the back of the ballot paper. I am not clear on that point.
This is a good amendment providing for a revised format of the ballot paper. There is some confusion surrounding the ballot paper where political party emblems currently appear on the left-hand side of it. Anything that improves the integrity of the electoral system is well worthwhile. Is it the intention that this revised format would apply in all elections, namely, in general elections and local authority elections, in other words, in elections to the Dáil, Seanad and local authorities?
A major issue related to electoral reform is emerging. Some 60,000 plus people came on to the register in the run-up to the marriage equality referendum. That indicates that 60,000 people, mainly young people we would assume, were not registered. It is estimated there could be a further 300,000 people who are not registered and only three months or so remain before we will have a general election. The only means for many people to get their names on the register will be by way of a supplemental register and there is a confined period within so many days of an election that this can be done. There is a cut-off point within 18 days of the election. There is a short window of opportunity for people register to vote in that way. I ask the Minister of State to consider bringing forward enabling legislation to allow people to have their names added to the register of electors, and thereby retain the integrity of it.
At present, people must go to a Garda station in order to have a form for inclusion on the supplementary register completed. The form is a bit more detailed and complicated than the ordinary registration form. Local authorities could be allowed to accept forms once the applicants produce photographic identification, such as a driver's licence, an ID card, a passport or social welfare card. It is probably a safer system than any other system. If we could allow this to happen, it would help register some of those people who are not going to be on the register of electors for the general election. I make that suggestion to the Minister of State today. The change to the ballot paper is a move in the right direction.
The ballot paper is for the general election but it will be reviewed and a review of other ballot papers will take place after that.
I know that issues with the register of electors cause significant difficulties. There is a local hiatus in respect of this. Promotional posters were circulated to registration authorities, Members of the Oireachtas, student unions and 48 organisations affiliated to the National Youth Council of Ireland. Up-to-date information is published on checktheregister.ie. The Department has daily communication with the registration authorities. An advertisement is published in the national newspapers encouraging people to register. The advertisement is similar to the poster. The Department's website and Twitter account highlight the issue. Online advertisements are published throughout the month of November on herald.ie, myhome.ie, Facebook and rte.ie. The objective of the campaign is to encourage people to check the draft register of electors to ensure they are correctly registered and to inform the appropriate registration authority, namely, the local authority, of any errors or omissions. This can be done on checktheregister.ieor directly with the local authorities.
In respect of the Garda, I know that it does cause difficulties. Where the applicant establishes in writing that he or she is unable to progress the application in this way, the form can be signed by the applicant in the presence of an official of the registration authority who is satisfied as to his or her identity. If they can bring identification, they can sign it in front of the registration authority.
I move amendment No. 2:
In page 6, after line 44, to insert the following:
"Amendment of Electoral Act 1992, Referendum Act 1994 and Presidential Elections Act 1993 in order to change island voting and to provide for related matters
4.(1) Section 85 of Part 15 of the Electoral Act 1992 is hereby repealed.
(2) Section 42 of the Presidential Elections Act 1993 is hereby amended by the substitution of "section 86" for "sections 85 and 86".
(3) Section 30 of the Referendum Act 1994 is hereby amended by the substitution of "section 86" for "sections 85 and 86".
(4) (a) The Minister may make regulations for the general purpose of this section and may, by regulation, provide for any matter referred to in this Act as prescribed or to be prescribed.(b) Every regulation under this section shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and, if a resolution annulling the
regulation is passed by either such House within the next 21 days on which that House has sat after the regulation is laid before it, the regulation shall be annulled
accordingly but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done under the regulation.
(c) Regulations under this section may contain such incidental, supplementary and consequential provisions as appear to the Minister to be necessary or expedient for the purposes of the regulations.".
The effect of this amendment would be to delete the section that provides for voting to be arranged by the returning officers. It is at their discretion and a day earlier than the ballot in the rest of the country. In Donegal in recent times, the ballot has been held two days earlier and one day earlier in Galway and Mayo. Amazingly, it has been held on the same day as the rest of the country for a long time on the Cork islands. The disadvantage of holding it a day earlier, particularly on islands, is that we normally hold elections on Friday. Holding elections on Fridays is quite sensible. The idea is that by holding an election on a Friday, people are given the maximum opportunity to get home to vote because there are many who work or study away from home who do not bother to get a postal vote and who want to cast their ballot at their local polling stations. They return home at the weekend and vote. The advantage for rural people who may be studying in Dublin and who are returning home of elections being held on Fridays is doubled in an island context. This is because more individuals from the islands tend to work on the mainland. It is not so easy to travel the 30 or 40 miles back home in the evening to vote - the person might only be working in Galway, so the distance involved would not be great - and return to the mainland the following morning. There are 2,575 people registered to vote on the islands. As of the most recent election, 1,155 people were registered to vote in Galway West, 760 people were registered to vote in Donegal, 194 people were registered to vote in Mayo and 466 people were registered to vote in Cork South West. In other words, that is the position outlined by the electoral register at the most recent election and it would not have changed that dramatically since then.
The argument has been put forward that there would be a problem in getting ballot boxes to polling booths. The first thing is that there is a discretion under the Act if one wishes to have a short polling day. That is the situation on Inishfree and Gola. They have three or four hours of polling as a result of the very small number of people who vote. A total of 67 people are registered to vote on Inishbofin, nine are registered to vote on Inishfree and 25 people are registered to vote on Gola. My understanding is that there have been short polling days on these islands and that there is no problem getting the boxes back as a result.
I approached the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht for data relating to the regularity of boat sailings. It is very instructive to discover how things on the islands have improved dramatically. Arranmore in Donegal has an average of seven return sailings per day and 2,464 return sailings per year. The total number of non-sailings is 78. These are return sailings that do not occur for one reason or another. When I take out December and January, I suddenly find that the figure drops to 16. In order to have an election in January, one would need to call it literally in the first week of that month. If it was called at the end of January, the election would be in February. It is unlikely that this Government or any other would call an election in the run-up to Christmas. Therefore, when one looks at non-sailings, one can exclude the possibility of the two months of January and December. One could probably exclude the early weeks of February as well. What one will find is that the few non-sailings that happen take place in those days. Since there are seven sailings per day, and this is the information I was a bit disappointed not to get even though I specifically asked for it, I reckon that in the 16 days during which there was a missed sailing - unless there were two days during which the entire seven did not occur - there were probably six sailings during those days so the boats actually sailed on all the days. It just did not do all the sailings. It might have missed an early or late sailing. I think one could say there is never a day during which the boat does not get in from Arranmore.
When we consider the position in respect of Tory Island, which is probably the least accessible island, we find that there are 991 return sailings. That is approximately three sailings per day. The figure for non-sailings is 228, which is higher than any other island. Again, when one excludes December and January, one finds that this drops to 130. There is one difference in Donegal, which is that there is also an arrangement to have a helicopter service to the island so it would be very easy to make an arrangement for one extra helicopter trip to that island because there is a contract between the HSE and the Department to provide for helicopter services. In the case of Tory Island - as already stated, this is probably one of the more difficult islands to reach - when one actually strips it down, allowing for three sailings per day, there will be very few days during which there is no sailing. When one then takes the helicopter service into account, the problem is eliminated.
In the context of Inishbiggle, we find that in the period 2013 to 2014, out of 670 sailings, there were two sailings missing and there were none missing in the period 2014 to 2015. Again, one sees double sailings per day so it is not a challenge.
I am sorry to go on at length but it is important that we put this on the record. There are 626 sailings to Inishturk a year. Again, there is a double sailing every day. Of those, 89 sailings did not take place. Two sailings did not necessarily take place on the one day; it might have been one sailing. A total of 38 of the 89 non-sailings were in December and January, giving 53 non-sailings in the rest of the year. In most cases, the boat would have sailed at least once in the day, either in the morning or in the evening.
There were 792 sailings to Clare Island. A total of 58 return sailings did not happen but when I take out December and January, the number is down to 26. If I took out the non-sailings for the first half of February, the figures would be a lot less.
I will deal first with the air service for the Aran Islands. In 2013, the air service did not fly on only nine days. The results I got were broken down day by day so I could extrapolate the information accurately. If I take December and January out, there were only four days on which the air service did not fly. They were probably foggy days. The year of the big storms was 2014. In that year, the air service did not fly on 19 days but 11 of those were again in December and January, which brought the number of days on which there was no air service to eight days. This year, to date, there have been 12 days with no service and four of those days were in December and January. On the days it is foggy between the mainland and the Aran Islands, which is one of the main reasons the planes cannot fly, that is the best day for the boat because the sea is as calm as glass.
The same pattern arises when we look at sailings to the Aran Islands. There was a total of 744 sailings to Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr and 42 return sailings did not take place, but 28 of those were in December and January and 14 were in the rest of the year. Unfortunately, there is not a contracted service to Inis Mór so I do not have figures, but I assure the Minister of State that the number of non-sailing days to Inis Mór are much less, if any, because there is a fantastic pier built there and it can take any weather, including a one in a 1,000 year storm.
The situation gets interesting when I look at the Cork islands. The inshore islands in Cork have thousands of sailings with virtually a 100% record. The number of non-sailings are very small. For example, in Inis Arcain, Sherkin Island, there are 5, 616 sailings and there are 3,264 to Whiddy. When I take the one island in Cork that is a little bit offshore, namely, Cape Clear or Oileán Chléire, there are 900 sailings a year or three sailings a day, and again I get the same pattern. A total of 31 non-sailings were recorded. It is unlikely that no sailing took place on any given day. It is more likely that one out of the three sailings was missed. The same pattern emerges in that 14 of those days were in December and January, leaving 17 non-sailings out of a total of 988 sailings. If one takes it that there were no sailings on Sundays, that means it is only a third of that, namely, six days in the year, or much more likely that one of the three sailings did not take place, either an early sailing or a late sailing.
The other interesting point is that in Cork the election has been held on the same day as in the rest of the country even though its rate of non-sailings is more or less comparable with the other islands. I put it to the Minister of State that if it has worked for Cork, it will work for anywhere else. In the event that an election is called on a day on which we have the greatest storm ever, as we had with Storm Debbie, it would not only be a problem on the islands, it would be a problem on the mainland, and an extremely serious problem too if we had a storm such as Hurricane Debbie in the 1960s or a major storm. That would disrupt the voting much more than a bit of delay in getting back a ballot box. If, by some rare chance, on the day of the election one could not get to the islands that are further out by boat, one could use a helicopter service. There is no problem with them flying in the stormiest of weather because the Coast Guard helicopters can fly in virtually any weather. Therefore, the situation that existed in the past before we put in all the piers and services is overruled by the statistics we now have that show the reliability of the transport services to the islands is tremendous.
I am curious to know what would be the statistical chance of having a very bad frost or snow storm in Wicklow, for example, that might prevent a ballot box being returned or might even prevent people from voting. What would be done in that case? We do not have a provision in the legislation to provide for any contingency. There is no problem in getting the ballot boxes back in due course, so the worst case scenario is that one cannot get the boxes out. If that happens, then one would not hold the final count until all the ballot boxes have been distributed. One could ask what is the big deal. In Galway West, it always takes two days and at the last election it took five days to count the votes. One could ask if we are putting the expediency of the count ahead of the basic, fundamental right to vote. We must ask ourselves that serious question.
Why should islanders be treated differently when there is such a small statistical chance of a problem arising? Therefore, I urge the Minister of State to accept the amendment and to ensure same-day voting on the islands as we have on the mainland. It is important to recognise that we live in a vastly changed world with highly reliable services to the islands and that we have the backup of helicopters if we need them if there is an extreme weather event.
I have listened keenly to Deputy Ó Cuív on this issue. I appreciate his interest to facilitate voting by our island communities. However, it is important that we keep sight of the key objective of ensuring that ballot boxes from island polling stations are at the count centre at 9 a.m. in the morning on the day of the count. That is the No. 1 consideration. It is not desirable that the count for any constituency should be unduly delayed because all the ballot boxes are not at the count centre. The provisions in the electoral Acts are there to cater for that.
I agree with Deputy Ó Cuív that cancellations of island ferry services are few and far between. He has provided the statistics in that regard. However, we must err on the side of caution and the fact is that cancellations happen and we must provide for such situations. The returning officer in the constituency is best placed to decide on whether the poll should be taken on an island on an earlier date. It would not, therefore, make sense to repeal section 85 of the Electoral Act 1992. Notwithstanding the statistics and taking climate change into account, there are unpredictable climate change patterns and we must be aware of that. We have, on occasion, checked the situation with the island ferry companies. Ferries have been cancelled in Donegal, Mayo and Galway in extreme weather conditions.
It is our understanding that transport by helicopter is not always feasible. These are inconvenient realities and we need to be in a position to prepare and react to them proportionately.
We have spoken to returning officers about these arrangements and their clear preference is to retain flexibility. Such a provision allows them to make decisions on the occasion of every election and referendum having regard to weather conditions and transport availability. Deputy Ó Cuív has campaigned about this matter for a very long time. Regrettably, I cannot accept his amendment but I will undertake to write to the returning officers on this matter when the general election is called to seek their advice on weather conditions and to clarify what they wish to do. I hope my undertaking will satisfy the Deputy.
I am broadly sympathetic with what Deputy Ó Cuív said but I am not going to embarrass the Government by voting against its wishes. Perhaps the Minister of State will consider the matter before the Bill is brought back to the Dáil.
For clarity, I would like somebody to explain a particular matter for me. In constituencies with islands, is it a decision entirely for the returning officer as to whether a poll is held on the same day or on a different day? It might be useful to have the returning officer in Cork West or Cork South-West to have a word with the relevant returning officers in Donegal, Mayo and Galway West. I do not wish to push the matter any more than that. Deputy Ó Cuív has a real point and I ask that the matter be considered between now and Report Stage.
Like Deputy Dowds, I agree with what Deputy Ó Cuív said. He is one of the people who knows the situation better than most because he lives in one of these communities. I did not time the speech that he gave on his constituency. I say this as a joke. I note that he has the largest number of voters and in terms of all of the islands, the one he mentioned seems to have the largest population. Voting is a serious issue. I will ask - or perhaps the Minister of State might ask - the returning officers for their views of what Deputy Ó Cuív has said before we reach Report and Final Stages. If they agree with him, then I do not think there is any reason not to implement his proposal, particularly if alternative sailings are provided.
That suggestion makes sense, particularly if there is a guaranteed service and if alternatives are provided in the event of ferry sailings being disrupted. It is important that people can vote and my preference would be for elections to be held at weekends. If people cannot be facilitated on Saturdays, then at the very least they should be able to vote on Friday evenings. A hell of a lot of people from rural areas and the islands - where the situation is even more pronounced - work elsewhere and travel home at weekends. As a result, we should do everything possible to ensure that the maximum number of people can vote in elections while at the same time maintaining the integrity of the voting process. We should not wait until the day an election is called to write to returning officers. I would like to hear the view of the respective returning officers from the relevant counties. It would be interesting to hear what they have to say about the matter and it would be nice to hear their views now.
First, let us look at the decisions made. Inishbiggle Island in County Mayo has virtually never had a failed sailing. One could not have a failed sailing if one knew where Inishbiggle Island is located and the way boats sail to it from Ballycroy on the mainland. The distance is very short. In fact, one can walk to the island when the tide is out. People on the island vote two days earlier than their counterparts on the mainland. I do not know why a returning officer might be of the view that it would not be possible to transport a ballot box back to the mainland across a few hundred yards of seawater.
In the context of what the Minister of State said about talking to returning officers, I was Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government for the four weeks immediately prior to the most recent general election.
I took up the issue with the returning officers but got the usual answer that Cork, including Cape Clear, would do as always and allow people to vote on the day, that Galway would have its poll the day before and that Mayo and Donegal would have theirs two days before. None of them was prepared to change and, in law, returning officers have absolute discretion when deciding on this issue. I hope that the Minister of State is more persuasive than I was. I have a funny feeling that she will not be because that is why we need to change the law.
I noted in the Minister of State's reply, which was deftly prepared for her, the reference to non-sailings in south-west Donegal, Mayo and west Galway but there was nary a mention of Cork. As I said, it seems to work in Cork. When I examined the position regarding non-sailings, the pattern is no different from anywhere else. To be quite honest, if one excludes December, January and the first two weeks of February - I do not think anybody will call an election in those periods - the number of non-sailing days is virtually unknown. If the weather was so bad that one could not get the boxes in, then one would not be able to do much else on the mainland either. There is an idea that only islands are disrupted by bad weather. One of the major considerations with regard to climate change - a matter about which the Minister of State has indicated her concern - is that if a massive windstorm struck on polling day, there could be a massively low turnout because older people and other individuals might be afraid of trees being blown down or whatever. We will have to put up with that situation if it happens, the Government will proceed with the election and it will be valid. The people who get to the polling station will vote, those who fail to do so will not and that will be the way of it. That would be a much more massive disruption to the whole election than the possibility that, in some freakish circumstances, there might be some delay with the boxes.
I presume the amendment will be defeated if I press it to a vote. However, I shall resubmit it on Report Stage. I hope that between now and then the Minister of State will reflect on the human issue involved and the human right to vote in a polling booth. Inishmore has 629 voters, many of whom are fishermen who return home at the weekends. Not all members of the electorate on the island have postal votes. The Minister of State will know from her own constituency that people tend to forget to opt for a postal vote. Many individuals do not like the postal vote and would rather cast their ballot in a polling booth. I refer here to those who are studying and working in Galway, not to mention places further afield, who do not avail of the postal vote. It is a terrible thing to put convenience ahead of a right. I cannot foresee a situation whereby it would not be possible, using aeroplanes or boats, to get ballot boxes to their destinations on time. It would be just as easy for certain returning officers to manage this as it is for their counterpart in Cork to do so.
This is a simple matter with which to deal. I am aware, from experience, that if the law is not changed, then the position will not change in practice. There is huge disgruntlement on the islands about this issue and people feel very badly wronged. Nobody has yet explained to me how what is right for Cork is not right for the remainder of the country.
Bheadh súil agam go nglacfaí leis an leasú seo inniu. Má tá tuilleadh ama ag teastáil ón Aire Stáit le smaoineamh air, tá súil agam go smaoineoidh sí air agus go mbeidh sé de mhisneach aici a fheiceáil go bhfuil an saol ag athrú agus go bhfuil cearta daoine i gceist anseo, go bhfuil na cearta sin tábhachtach do dhaoine agus gur ceart géilleadh don iarratas seo agus gur ceart déanamh cinnte go bhfuil an vótáil ar an lá céanna.
Tá rud eile ann nach bhfuil luaite agam agus is iad sin na meáin cumarsáide. Tarlaíonn go leor de na díospóireachtaí anois ag an nóiméad deiridh. Tá na rialacha athraithe agus is féidir bheith amuigh ar na meáin craolta go dtí meánlae an lá roimh an toghchán. Ar na hoileáin i dTír Chonaill agus Maigh Eo, bíonn an vótáil déanta ag daoine dhá lá roimh an gnáth lá vótála, agus lá amháin in nGaillimh.
The media play a significant role in elections and are very much part of what happens. The people on the offshore islands of counties Donegal and Mayo cast their vote two days before those on the mainland and miss the final debates. As members know the rules changed in the last election and one can broadcast election material up to midday of the day before the election. This is a major change. Again, the islanders are missing out of being part of all this. To be quiet honest, the only people this particular arrangement suits, aside from returning officers, are the politicians. It was handy enough to cover the islands a day or two before the election and focus on the mainland on the day of the election. However, that was not fair on the islanders. Surely the right to vote is important in 2016, given that the government...."elected by the suffrages of all her men and women, " is enshrined in the 1916 Proclamation. Surely it is important to put the right "of all her men and women," to vote ahead of minor inconvenience that might in some very odd case arise or possible logistical difficulty that one can conceive of. At this stage the logistical difficulties are more in the mind than in the reality, with all the facilities we have.
I have laid out for the Deputy the reasoning for not accepting this amendment. There is a risk. We have spoken to the returning officers and they want to retain that flexibility. I will undertake to speak to them again. At present the Government is opposing this amendment.
DOYLE — LIBERAL SOCIALISTS MARY DOYLE, of 10 High Street, Knockmore, Nurse. Emblem Photograph LYNCH — URBAN PARTY JANE ELLEN LYNCH, of 12 Main Street, Ardstown, Shopkeeper. Emblem Photograph MURPHY PATRICK MURPHY, of 12 Main Street, Ballyduff, Carpenter. Photograph Ó BRIAIN — CUMANN NA SAORÁNACH SÉAMUS Ó BRIAIN, as 10 An tSráid Ard, Carn Mór, Oide Scoile. Emblem Photograph