Martin says ‘we’re running out of time’ to run EU patent referendum in June

Martin Says ‘We’re Running Out Of Time’ To Run Eu Patent Referendum In June
The Fianna Fáil leader denied the suggestion that the government was afraid to run another plebiscite after a double rejection in March. Photo: PA
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By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

Tánaiste Micheál Martin did not refute suggestions that a referendum to approve Ireland’s participation in an EU patent court will not be held in June as planned.

The Unified Patent Court aims to make it easier for businesses and inventors to copyright their ideas and inventions across the EU – meaning they would only need to make one patent application instead of several.


The court opened in June last year and has 17 EU countries as members.

The Government said in January it had approved the drafting of a bill that would allow Ireland to take part in the patent court.

But following a report in the Irish Independent on Thursday that suggested the referendum in June was in doubt, Mr Martin said they were “running out of time” to hold the referendum on the same date as the local and European elections, June 7th.

He denied the suggestion that the government was afraid to run another plebiscite after a double rejection of two referendums in March.


The new Minister for Enterprise, Peter Burke, is to bring a memorandum to the government on Tuesday on whether to run the referendum in June as planned.

Speaking on Friday, Mr Martin said: “My view is that time is running short between now and the local elections.

“I’ve always had a view myself that referendums ideally should be held on their own, and not in the context of other elections.

“Others have different views, others felt that with local elections, European elections, you get a reasonable turnout to vote on a given referendum.


“The problem is getting the focus and time to focus on important issues. To amend the constitution is a very serious issue and it needs proper time, proper preparation and explanation to the public, in this case the Electoral Commission needs adequate time.

“So my view is we’re running out of time in respect of the local elections and European on that date to hold the patent referendum.

“It’s an important referendum in its own right, very important in terms of the industrial base of Ireland, life sciences, technology, and the research that underpins a lot of jobs in Ireland so we have to work on getting it done, and I think we need to do more work in terms of explaining to the public what is involved.”

He said a final decision would be made on Monday evening when the three coalition party leaders will meet to discuss it.


Asked whether the government was afraid it would get another resounding defeat in the referendum as they did in the care and family referendums in March this year, he said “no” and cited his belief that referendums should run “separately and on their own”.

Mr Martin, who directed what he called the Lisbon “Two” referendum, added that he “learned a lot” from that and has long-believed that referendums should be held on their own.

He added: “I have a very healthy respect around putting amendments to the constitution to the people, you can’t do it in a rushed manner or in a manner that can leave it open for confused debate.”

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