Misuse of taxpayer money for a political purpose by the National Woman’s Council of Ireland must be investigated as a matter of the utmost urgency, Save the 8th has said.

This morning’s Irish Times reveals that the Together for Yes group had based the messaging in their campaign launch on opinion polling and research carried out by the National Woman’s Council of Ireland last year. This research has been provided to, or donated to, Together for Yes.

Save the 8th Communications Director John McGuirk said: “Opinion polling and focus groups costs tens of thousands of euros to carry out. These were conducted by the National Women’s Council of Ireland, using money provided by the taxpayer. This research has now been donated to one side of the referendum campaign.

This is nothing less than criminal. Our campaign will be lodging a formal complaint with the Standards in Public Office Commission. We are also calling on the Public Accounts Committee to investigate this matter urgently.

It is a basic tenet of Irish democracy that the taxpayer’s own money should not be used in political campaigns. This is why there has been such controversy around the Strategic Communications Unit.

In this case, it is very clear now that substantial sums of money provided by the taxpayer have been used to underpin the entire strategy and message of the Together for Yes campaign. This is simply not acceptable, and raises grave questions around the entire legitimacy of this referendum”.

Note to Editors – remarks in this press release are based on this report by Pat Leahy in this morning’s Irish Times: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/repeal-campaign-seeks-to-follow-marriage-equality-example-1.3437046