Open Letter to Mr Schulz, President of the European Parliament on Ireland’s Marriage Refrendum

May 21, 2015

Dear Mr President,

As you might be aware of, the Irish citizens will vote this Friday 22 May in a referendum aimed at amending the Irish Constitution so as to redefine marriage as being between any two persons, regardless of their sex. Unfortunately, a climate of fear and intimidation has pervaded throughout the campaign, creating electoral conditions that are far from ‘free and fair’. That is why we call on you, Mr President, to urgently and firm intervene in accordance with the standards already met in similar situations.

The EU claims to be a community of democracies, governed by the Rule of Law. When we go around the world observing voting, we insist that just as important as how voting procedures are carried out on polling day itself, is how the campaign is conducted.

What has taken place in Ireland over the past months is unacceptable for an EU Member State:

  • Every one of the publically-funded political parties in the Irish Parliament is actively campaigning for a Yes to same-sex marriage and have threatened their members with expulsion unless they follow the party line.
  • All of the media, both public and private, is strongly in favour and have even ignored a ruling of Ireland’s Supreme Court, ordering 50/50 allocation of space to groups on both sides of the debate. In addition, a number of senior media figures are actively campaigning on the Yes side.
  • Multinationals with their headquarters in Ireland are telling their employees to vote Yes and to campaign for this on the social media. Considering that they employ thousands of Irish citizens during a difficult period for the Irish economy, the veiled threat is not hard to detect.
  • Foreign billionaire has channelled millions of dollars to the Yes side; illegal under Irish electoral law, but not reacted to by the Irish Government.

Most disturbing of all, the national Police force is actively supporting the Yes side, including through the use of state resources by allowing police stations to be used for photo opportunities. This is particularly sinister because it is the Police who in Ireland are charged with securing the integrity of the voting stations and the vote counting procedure. Even the former Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman intervened to condemn this inappropriate action by the Police.

We as Members of European Parliament are concerned that the integrity of the Irish Referendum has been seriously compromised. This attitude to democracy is contradictory to core values of European Union, therefore we appeal, Mr President, for your intervention which we perceive indispensable.

Strasbourg, 19.05.2015

Signed by MEPs:

Arne Gerike (ECR) Beatrix von Storch (ECR), Edouard Ferrand (NI), Kazimierz Michal Ujazdowski (ECR), Marek Jurek (ECR), Branislaw Skripek (ECR)