Shane Coleman has a fascinating piece in today’s Sunday Tribune (with added links):
Ban on corporate donations could face legal action
A key part of the newly revised programme for government [scribd, see pp34-35] to end corporate donations to individual politicians and political parties could be open to constitutional challenge … [there is] “definitely a freedom of expression issue” about such a move and that it was “not straightforward”.
… however … the Supreme Court here has previously upheld restrictions on political advertising for reasons that “could sustain the validity” of a ban on donations to individual politicians and parties. … legislation attempting to regulate expenditure in US elections had been struck down by the US Supreme Court on freedom of expression grounds and that the European Court of Human Rights had also raised questions about such restrictions. Emphasising again the broadcast ban on political advertising, … [it is] “open question” as to whether the arguments made in the US on freedom of expression were “as strong in an Irish context” … [especially because] the Irish constitutional protection of freedom of expression was “not a particularly strong one”.
[On the other hand], speaking to the Sunday Tribune, environment minister and Green Party leader John Gormley [pictured top left] said he was confident the ban would be legally sound: … “If you have a situation as in the United States, where you have the best democracy money can buy, that is not conducive to a fairer, more equal society”.
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On a very different legal issue on free speech in Ireland, albeit not of the High or Supreme Court Constitutional precedent setting level is the following recent decision in the Equality Tribunal on online discussion forums as a source of harassment contrary to the Equal Status Acts: