Ireland is to hold a referendum in May or June to test public opinion about the European Stability Treaty after the Government was advised by the Attorney General. The AG pointed out that the Treaty is outside the scope of the architecture of the EU. But referendums do not come cheap.
The cost of promoting the two referendums on the Lisbon Treaty each cost close to €5 million.
The Referendum Commission was established in 1998 to oversee the information campaign connected to any referendum. The legislation providing for the establishment of a Referendum Commission is the Referendum Act 1998 as amended by the Referendum Act 2001.
Under the Referendum Act 1998 the Commission initially had the role of setting out the arguments for and against referendum proposals, having regard to submissions received from the public. Since the passing of the Referendum Act 2001 the Commission no longer has a statutory function in relation to putting the arguments for and against referendum proposals. The 2001 Act also removed from the Commission the statutory function of fostering and promoting debate or discussion on referendum proposals.
The direct costs of informing the electorate about the Lisbon Treaty in 2008 and 2009 were:
|Advertising, excluding press||1,535,545||1,148,331|
|Press and PR||1,901,331||1,286,558|
|Postal and distribution||1,042,317||265,519|
|Design and printing of publications||357,821||180,603|
|Other administrative costs||70,199||140,263|
The returning officer apparatus to actually conduct the vote will cost in the region of €15 million and postal charges to distribute information and ballot details will add another €12 million.
All told it is a day out that will cost as close to €30 million as makes not difference.