Statement from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government on the settlement of the Court case between Amnesty International and the Standards in Public Office Commission
The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government notes the settlement agreed between Amnesty International Ireland and the Standards in Public Office Commission in connection with their recent judicial review proceedings concerning a decision under the Electoral Act 1997. The Department is aware of views that have been raised by a number of civil society groups with regard to the third party funding provisions under the Act and is happy to receive any submissions or views that any interested parties wish to make in this respect.
The Department notes that the Annual Report 2017 of the Standards in Public Office Commission (July 2018) recommends that an “…electoral commission should be established, and a comprehensive review of the Electoral Acts should take place, preferably in the context of the creation of an electoral commission.” Plans to establish an Electoral Commission are now being advanced in the Department in accordance with the commitment in A programme for a Partnership Government and having regard to the recent recommendations in the first Report of the Interdepartmental Group on security of Ireland’s Electoral Process and Disinformation (June 2018) that this work should be expedited and that the issue of spending limits and transparency requirements around Referendums should also be examined.
The establishment of an Electoral Commission could bring significant change to the oversight of the electoral system in the State and a regulatory impact assessment is under development in the first instance which will identify and compare a number of policy options for the establishment of the Commission. Each option will set out a possible range of functions together with membership, accountability mechanisms and timelines for its establishment and will also analyse the cost, benefits and impacts of each option. It is anticipated that proposals will be brought to Government for its consideration in the autumn. A detailed public and stakeholder consultation will form part of the process.