I move the Second Reading of the Constitution (Amendment No. 3) Bill, the purport of which is to provide for the removal, from Article 28 of the Constitution, of the requirement that the polling day of a general election must be proclaimed a public holiday. The intention, I believe, of this provision was to secure that every elector should be free on that day to record his vote. But in practice its operation has resulted in a general dislocation of business and consequent economic loss to the State, as well as a considerable hardship to individuals, through loss either of the day's wages in the case of workers, or of the day's work in the case of employers.
We do not consider that there is any reason to anticipate that as a result of the passing of this Bill persons will find themselves unable to record their votes. If a situation of that nature were to arise, it could be dealt with, if necessary, by legislation. The polling booths, as we know, are open for a sufficient time to enable any voter who for good reason cannot vote during his working-hours, to exercise the franchise either before or after the ordinary work of his day. Any inconvenience that may be caused to individual voters in these circumstances is less than the inconvenience which the loss of a day's work or of a day's pay would entail upon the employer or the employee. There seems to be a strong case for the removal of this particular provision from the Constitution, and this Bill has been drafted, and is put to the Dáil, with that object.