Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien and Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan have welcomed the formal establishment of An Coimisiún Toghcháin (the Electoral Commission) on a statutory footing today (9 February), paving the way for the Commission to begin its work as an independent body.
Both Ministers have also welcomed the appointment of the Hon. Ms. Justice Marie Baker to the role of An Coimisiún Toghcháin’s Chairperson. Her appointment to the role of Chairperson completes An Coimisiún’s seven-person membership, following the appointment of four ordinary members in December 2022. The Clerk of the Dáil and the Ombudsman will sit as ex officio members of An Coimisiún.
Minister O’Brien said:
“I wish to congratulate Justice Baker on her appointment as Chairperson of An Coimisiún Toghcháin. She will bring a wealth of experience and expertise to this significant role in the operation and safeguarding of our democratic processes.
"I urge the public to engage with the important, upcoming work of the Commission in protecting and modernising our electoral landscape.”
An Coimisiún Toghcháin is independent of Government, reporting directly to the Oireachtas and will be central to the administration, development and protection of our democratic processes and institutions.
The establishment of An Coimisiún Toghcháin is a commitment in the Programme for Government: Our Shared Future and follows from the Electoral Reform Act 2022. An Coimisiún Toghcháin will carry out a broad range of core existing electoral functions, including explaining to the public the subject matter of referendums; reviewing Dáil Éireann and European Parliament constituencies and local electoral area boundaries and the preparation and maintenance of the Register of Political Parties. It will also carry out a number of new functions including research on electoral policy, the regulation of online political advertising and protecting the integrity of elections.
Minister Noonan said:
“An Coimisiún Toghcháin will be at the international cutting edge of electoral reform, particularly with respect to its significant powers and responsibilities in protecting our electoral system and processes in the online space – an area of growing concern. I’m particularly pleased that it will also have a role in researching the barriers to participation experienced by marginalised and disenfranchised groups, and in communicating impartial, reliable information to everyone, including hard to reach groups. The establishment of the Commission marks a milestone in the reform and modernisation of our electoral system. Ireland is known for the high democratic standard of its electoral processes and today’s announcement ensures that this will remain the case into the future.”
NotesFunctions of An Coimisiún ToghcháinAn Coimisiún Toghcháin is independent of Government, reporting directly to the Oireachtas and will be central to the administration, development and protection of our democratic processes and institutions.
It will take on a broad range of core existing electoral functions, including:
(a) explaining to the public the subject matter of referendums;
(b) reviewing Dáil Éireann and European Parliament constituencies and local electoral area boundaries;
(c) the preparation and maintenance of the Register of Political Parties
It will carry out a range of new electoral roles, including:
(a) conducting research on electoral policy and procedure and making; recommendations to the Minister, thereby influencing the evolution of our electoral system;
(b) providing the public with information on electoral processes (including referenda) and encouraging participation in the electoral and democratic processes of the State;
(c) overseeing the management of the electoral register;
(d) reporting on how electoral events are administered;
(e) regulating online political advertising; and
(f) protecting the integrity of elections and referendums against online disinformation, misinformation and manipulative or inauthentic behaviour