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Thursday 8 December 2016

Judge dismisses challenges to Yes vote

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TWO men have failed in separate bids to challenge the Yes result of last month's same-sex marriage referendum.

The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, said neither Gerry Walshe nor Maurice J Lyons had met the requirements of the 1994 Referendum Act to bring such challenges. Both had represented themselves.

The critical test was whether the issues referred to were such as would have had a material effect on the May 22 referendum result as a whole, the judge said.

This was a high threshold, as was appropriate when it was sought to interfere with the will of the people, he said.

It was also appropriate for a significant amendment which could affect the rights of citizens who, for reasons including serious illness, may wish to marry as soon as possible.

The high threshold was even more difficult to meet when the majority Yes vote in this referendum exceeded the No vote by almost half a million people, the judge said.

Arguments by Mr Lyons, a gardener, of Callan, Co Kilkenny, that the amendment conflicted with the Christian ethos of the Constitution went to the content of the amendment, an area the court had no power to address, he ruled.

Dealing with the separate case by Mr Walshe, an electrician of Lisdeen, Co Clare, the judge said none of his arguments met the high threshold.

Mr Walshe based his claim of partiality by the government in the referendum campaign on photos of Yes posters put up by Fine Gael and the Labour Party outside supermarkets in his county.

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