Candidates in the principal election are entitled to post one item free of charge to each voter.  This applies to both general elections and by-elections.  It does not apply to local elections.

A party is only entitled to one free postal communication.  Its candidates are deemed singular.

Ministerial regulations are made for each election setting out the particulars of the size of envelope, communication etc.  A maximum weight is specified.  It must be labelled as an electoral communication.

The printer’s name must be on the face of all election material.  The publisher may be the candidate, his agent or a party.  The requirement applies to every poster, bill, printed material, relation to the election which seeks to promote a candidate.

Failure to include the details of the printer and publisher is an offence subject on summary conviction to a fine up to €1270 or six months imprisonment or an indictment a fine of €2,500  and imprisonment up to three years.It is an offence to publish, post any such poster, and this would include putting up poster.

There is a limited exception to the general prohibition against publishing advertisements and notices on structures, gates, windows, poles etc.    The poster must be in position for no longer than seven days after the latest day for which the poll has been taken, commencing at the start of the election period and ending seven days afterwards. If a candidate fails to remove a poster after seven days , he may be served with a notice, and if he  fails to remove it, he may be prosecuted.

It is prohibited to canvas within 100 yards of a polling station.  This includes giving literature, loudspeakers and other forms of canvassing.  The 100 yards run from the entrance to the polling station.The prohibition lasts from 30 minutes before polling commences until 30 minutes afterwards.It is an offence there

  • to loiter or congregate with other persons
  • to attempt to induce persons by any means to vote for a candidate or refrain from voting
  • to display or distribute any notice, sign or poster other than those by the returning officer, to use or cause any loudspeaker or public address system to be broadcast in relation to the election.

It is the duty of the RTE Authority to ensure that all news broadcasts is reported in an objective and impartial manner without expression of views.  The treatment of current affairs, including matters which are of public controversy or debate must be fair to the interests of all concerned.  Broadcast material is to be presented in an objective and impartial manner without an expression of opinion of the Authority’s views.

If it is impractical to fulfil the requirement in a single program, it s may be done over a series of programs so that the series or related broadcasts as a whole must be fair and balanced.  They must be broadcast within a reasonable time of each other.

Similar provisions apply to the independent broadcast media section/sector licensed by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland.The authority and TV stations may broadcast party-political broadcasts.  However, they must afford the opportunities to different parties and interests to make a broadcast.  There must be a balance between the parties.

Generally RTE and the independent sector may not accept advertisements directed towards any religious or political end or in relation to an industrial dispute. The BAI guidelines seek to ensure that there is no undue favour or tension for a particular political group.

There is a moratorium on broadcasting electoral material within 24 hours before the polling day until close of polling.   The moratorium on broadcasting applies under BAI guidelines.  It originally started this practice and there is no independent legislative basis.  Limited factual information on  the poll and turnout etc. is permitted.

The only bars and restrictions on political advertising relates to broadcasting.  However, the advertising standards authority guidelines limit political advertisement.  See the separate section on these guidelines. The print media does not adopt a moratorium in the 24 hour period before polling day.

Elections may be challenged through a court procedure petition. The petition may be presented by an elector in the relevant constituency.  Alternatively, it may be presented by the Director of Public Prosecutions.  A petition is required to be accompanied by security for cost. The court may waive the requirement for security for costs where it is of the view that it would cause hardship to the petitioner.

A petition must be lodged within 28 days of the returning officer’s decision declaration of the result. Notice of the petition must be published.Where the petition is based on bribery, it must be made within 28 days of the alleged bribe. If  based on the election expenditure return, it  must be made within 7 days.

There are special procedures applicable to a petition.  They are set out in the court rules.  The petition must be served on certain persons including the person whose election it  is relates to, the Clerk of the Dail, Minister for the Environment and Local Government, the  returning officer and the DPP.

An election petition is heard by a three-judge high court.  The matter is to be dealt with as soon as reasonably possible.A election may be challenged on a number of grounds including ineligibility of the candidate, commission of certain offenses in connection with the election, obstruction of the conduct of the election, mistake or irregularity which is likely to affect the result.

The original ballot papers, returning officers’ counterfoils etc.  are sent to the central office if required.The court may direct a recount of all votes.The court may dismiss the petition,  substitute a correct result or declare the election void.

Where the election has been declared void, the person ostensibly elected, ceases to be a member.  Where election has been held invalid a fresh election is held to fill the vacancy.  This may require the election for all seats in a constituency to be re-held or alternatively a single seat creating a de facto by-election.  This must be held within three months.

There are separate but similar procedures in respect of other types of petitions.The procedures are broadly similar.  Security is generally required.  The r initial consent of the High Court is required for a petition.  This is what is rate as a filtering devices against unjustified claim.

Local election petitions are made to the Circuit Court.  The procedure is slightly simpler.  It is tried in the circuit court for the local authority functional area.  The range of orders that may be made is broadly similar to that for other types of petition.

Broadly, similar provisions exist in respect of referendum petitions.  See the separate chapter on referenda.

Where a person has been convicted of an  electoral offence the court may order him to pay all or part of the cost of the petition.


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