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Snippet Contents:

What has gone on here stinks to high heaven. Something of absolutely eIn case we think that we are immune in this jurisdiction, remember that six years ago, an eternity in politics and technology, in the 2011 presidential election, the "Frontline" programme saw an acrimonious debacle which led to much recrimination and arguably altered the course of the Irish presidential campaign. It is too late afterwards to address it when the damage has been done.
We have also seen the rise of online advertising, an extremely useful and progressive tool which I imagine most practicing politicians in this House, including myself, use regularly but without the checks and balances which traditional political advertising is subject to. If an anonymous organisation was to erect 1,000 posters in a village or town without a hint as to who funded, sponsored or published them, they would rightly be in breach of the electoral Acts. They would be subject to civil investigation and possibly to the Director of Public Prosecutions. However, the same thing can be done online in an instant with practically no safeguards. It would be possible right now for an international lobby group to purchase thousands of euro worth of advertisements on online social media and run advertising under a series of false flag accounts. This is clearly an affront to our democratic process. It is not yet illegal, but it is certainly dishonest. As we approach a busy period of referendums and elections, while we welcome the opportunities for wider debate and citizen engagement, we must ensure a robustness of content, safeguard our integrity and protect our democracy against those who would subvert it in organised, systematic and sinister ways.
The Bill recognises the large corpus of law that emanates from decades of referendums, in particular the McKenna judgments which state that public money cannot be used to sway either side in an electoral contest. The State is strictly neutral and this prohibition is restated in this legislation. The proposed measures are ideologically neutral. They apply equally to the left and to the right. Transparency takes no sides in electoral contests. It merely requires a standard of disclosure so that we know those who seek to influence our electoral outcomes are who they claim to be.
On the specifics of the Bill, it contains a number of definitions, including the definition of political advertising as advertising which seeks to direct the outcome of a referendum or election, to increase the popularity of a particular party or candidate for office, to influence the outcome of an industrial dispute or to influence a vote before the Oireachtas. The Bill contains a number of offences for failure to disclose the publisher or source of that information and a requirement to carry a transparency notice along with any online advertisements in the same manner that existing literature, posters and paraphernalia already require in the traditional world. It includes an offence of operating a bot, which is to have multiple fake accounts masquerading as individual entities which are actually deliberately controlled by a single user or single organisation to perpetrate political fraud. To quote the words of the poet John Keats: "Beauty is truth, truth beauty". I hope the Bill will enjoy cross-party support and I look forward to the wider debate.normous significance about advanced co-operation across Europe to progress the militarisation of Europe and ramp up the arms industry was not notified to the Business Committee and is being pushed through at a few days' notice. A vote is to be taken which, when one looks at the 20 different commitments under the PESCO arrangement, would include increasing defence budgets in real terms and increasing defence investment expenditure. It sets out targets in terms of percentage of GDP to be spent on arms which will be a significant increase on current levels of expenditure and a whole range of other commitments, yet the Government wants to ram it through with a few days' notice while the public does not have a clue about its implications.
The Government knows that there is massive opposition in this country to any move away from our military neutrality. The Government may say that it is not a move but I beg to differ and many other people would like to know the facts before they make their own judgment on it. However, given the timescale being proposed none of the stakeholder groups which have an interest or expertise in this matter will have an opportunity to give their opinions. Basically, this is a con. I believe that there is a quid pro quo with EU support for Ireland's position on Brexit. This is the deal.