Dublin MEP Emer Costello has called for Ireland’s equal marriage referendum to be held on the same day as European and local elections in 2014 – rather than the planned date of 2015.
The Irish Labour Party politician believes it will help boost turnout and safeguard a yes vote in favour of civil marriage rights for Ireland’s same-sex couples.
Last weekend, Ireland’s Prime Minister, Enda Kenny, was warned by members of his Fine Gael party that a referendum on equal marriage could be lost – simply because the Irish people are suffering from “referendum fatigue”.
Mrs Costello said: “While I very much welcome the government’s commitment to hold a referendum on same-sex marriage, I do believe that the date for polling should be brought forward. In light of the low-voter participation the past two referenda, I believe that the promised referendum on same-sex marriages should be held on the same date as the European and local elections.”
She added: “By running the referendum in tandem with elections, there is likely to be greater voter participation. In addition, there will also be some savings from operational costs associated with running referenda and elections.
“There are real lessons arising from both the Children’s referendum that was run just a year ago, and the recent referenda on the abolition of the Seanad and the establishment of the new Court of Appeal. Low voter turnout demonstrates a disengagement by the majority of voters in referenda. This cannot be ignored in planning for a plebiscite on same-sex marriage.”