Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Maastricht Referendum.

John V. Farrelly


1 Mr. Farrelly asked the Taoiseach if he will outline the Government's decision on the amount of literature which they will provide for the Maastricht Referendum and the content of this literature; and the total cost which is to be borne by the Government to launch and run the campaign.

As I have already said in the House, the Government will campaign vigorously for a resounding "yes" vote on 18 June as being, unquestionably, in the best interests of the people of this State. Like the campaigns of 1972 on entry to the Community and of 1987 on the Single European Act, this campaign will employ all appropriate elements such as ministerial meetings and speeches, participation in broadcast programmes and other public debates and media advertising and will focus on our recently published White Paper and explanatory booklet.

No final decision has yet been taken regarding the issue raised in the second part of the Deputy's question.

Will the Taoiseach state whether a copy of the literature will be delivered to every house in the country? If so, how? Will he give an assurance to the House that the literature will not contain the signature of any one Member of this House?

The distribution of everyman's guide is proceeding——

Did the Deputy not receive his copy yet? Plenty of people have received it and Deputies may rest assured that every household will receive a copy of the booklet well in advance of 18 June.

The Taoiseach did not answer the second part of the question. I asked him to give an assurance to this House that the literature will not contain the signature of any one Member of this House.

The Deputy is being naive in this regard as I am sure he has already read the explanatory booklet.

Deputy Farrelly wanted a reply.

Will the Taoiseach indicate how the Government's case in relation to the Single European Act was distributed? Were the postal services used? Is it proposed to use them on this occasion?

I have already answered that question and assured Deputies and the House that every household will receive a copy of the booklet before 18 June.

This matter should not lead to argument. I call Deputy Garland.

Will the postal services be used?

The Deputy has already asked that question.

I should like to ask the Taoiseach two brief questions. He has not given the cost to the taxpayer; in this regard he did not reply to Deputy Farrelly. We should know the cost to the taxpayer. What steps will the Taoiseach take this time to ensure that the media give a balanced coverage to the campaign? Will he instruct our EC Commissioner — as the previous Government did when Mr. Peter Sutherland was instructed——

The Deputy is injecting new matter into the question. That is a separate question.

Balance is a question for others. I have already said, in reply to Deputy Farrelly, that a final decision has not been taken regarding the issue raised in the second part of the question, which is the same question which Deputy Garland raised. The cost so far in relation to the White Paper and the guide to it is in the region of £500,000.

As the very serious postal strike is affecting the transmission of mail, will the Taoiseach outline to the House the methodology by which the Government will deliver the short explanatory memorandum on the White Paper to every household in the country?

By backbench TDs.

Many households have already received a copy and I assure the Deputies that all households will receive a copy.

They are none the wiser.

How will they receive a copy?

That is a separate question and if the Deputy wishes to table one in this regard it will be answered.

Will the Taoiseach state if the Government have decided at this stage — within one month of the referendum being held — the exact amount of money which has been voted on at Cabinet level for it? It is taxpayers' money.

I have already stated that the cost so far of the production of the White Paper and the guide is in the region of £500,000.

What is the total cost?

The final cost will be adhered to by the Government. We will spend what is appropriate to the taxpayer and the House; the Comptroller and Auditor General will have every opportunity of examining it.