Time to end public disclosure of electoral candidate addresses

Ivana Bacik TD
28 February 2024
  • 3 months since Government committed to Labour to examine the policy and no action

Labour Leader Ivana Bacik TD has called on the Government to act before the local and European elections in June to change the rules around public disclosure of candidates’ addresses.

Deputy Bacik said:

“In November I sought to amend Government legislation, at the Housing Committee and in the Dáil, to protect the home addresses of local and national political candidates.

“Too many people are put off entering a life in politics due to the fact that their personal details are available for all to see.

“At that time, the Government was not prepared to accept those proposals. The Minister for Housing also committed to working with the Electoral Commission on examining ‘research suggesting alternatives to the use of postal addresses.’

“Quite frankly, it is hard to see why such a drawn out process needs to take place. So long as a candidate can establish their bona fides, they should be entitled to run.

“We now have just three months until polling in the local and European elections, and nobody knows exactly when a general election will be called.

“It is plain to see when watching Oireachtas TV, or council meeting livestreams, that the composition of Irish politics does not reflect Irish society.

“Women, ethnic minorities, disabled people, LGBTQ+ people, and people with fewer economic means are all less likely to contest elections and our political system is worse off for it. Representation matters; as the old adage goes, ‘nothing about us, without us’.

“As public representatives, our job is to represent all the people. However, where there is homogeneity in electoral politics, that should ring alarm bells that more needs to be done to remove barriers to entry.

“While it would appear no one is immune from falling victim to the recent spike in abuse of political activists, it is clear that those whose very identity makes them vulnerable to discrimination have even more cause for concern.

“When that is stopping people from standing up and being counted, the Government needs to move to make politics more accessible.

“It is true that candidates are not forced to make public their details. However, when there is an option for candidates to publish – or not publish – their home addresses, it places more pressure on those who would be otherwise frightened to make public where they live. In the cut-and-thrust of a local campaign, candidates might wish to make a virtue of where they are from. However, the State should not become involved in forcing anyone’s hand. Clearly, people are placed at a disadvantage if they do not do so in the current system. As such, there should be a rule about it.

“There are now numerous proposals and calls for this, from both Government and Opposition benches. The Minister for Housing should move now, not wait for a report.”

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