‘No plans’ for further vote row inquiry in Northwest 2009 European Elections

The Department of the Environment has said there are “no plans” for any further inquiry into the alleged misappropriation of 3,000 votes in the 2009 European elections in the Ireland North West constituency.

The department was commenting on last week’s confirmation that the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission has closed its file on the investigations.

However, the candidate who made the initial complaint has said that the public is “no nearer to the truth” on the issue.

Independent North West candidate Fiachra Ó Luain said there is still no satisfactory explanation as to how such a large number of votes for him were initially bundled with votes for Libertas candidate Declan Ganley.

The discovery was made in the Castlebar count centre for the European Parliament’s Ireland North West constituency in June 2009 when Libertas candidate and businessman Declan Ganley asked for a recheck.

As a result, Mr Ganley’s official number of first preferences was reduced by 3,000 from 70,638.

Mr Ó Luain, who had been eliminated from the first count, found his first preference totals rising from 3,510 to 6,510.

A Garda investigation was conducted, following Mr Ó Luain’s complaint on the issue, and an unsupervised investigation was conducted on behalf of the Garda Ombudsman.

On appeal by Mr Ó’Luain, the Garda Ombudsman asked the Garda Commissioner to formally review the matter. It has now concluded its investigation and says it is “satisfied that there has been no breach of discipline on the part of the Garda member concerned”.

Mr Ó Luain said he never asked for an investigation into breach of discipline, but wished to determine how 3,000 votes could go missing. He said that to his knowledge no witnesses were ever interviewed at any stage of the inquiries.

He had called for both Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan to pursue the case, but Mr Shatter has said he cannot intervene, and a spokesman for his department told The Irish Times that “cases of alleged electoral fraud are a matter for the Garda”.

Mr O’Luain said he did not wish to let the matter rest.