New political integrity rules are being drafted by Dublin’s executive power in order to control foreign political donations. This is in light of concerns that Russia may try to interfere with the electoral process in Ireland. The purpose of the stricter regulations is to ensure that Irish parties are not able to accept any crypto donations and to ensure their full disclosure of their properties. The Irish daily Independent published a report that refers to the changes as a major transformation of the electoral legislation of the country. As per the new legislation, the Electoral Commission would have the authority to issue alerts to social media platforms about any misinformation attempts, along with take-down notices.
Darragh O’Brien, the local Government Minister, is currently leading the reform efforts. He said that all democracies are facing threats and this has become evident by the Russian invasion of Ukraine as well as the disinformation war that seems to be taking place. He further disclosed that his colleagues were ready to implement the new stringent measures because they wanted to protect Ireland’s democratic system due to the rising cyberwarfare threats that free countries are facing. The Electoral Reform Bill 2022 will be used for amending the political funding laws.
Ireland’s new Electoral Commission will be responsible for introducing guidelines relating to political advertisement online and is expected to be launched in the summer. These guidelines would include requiring parties to disclose how they are funding their ads and what audience they plan to target. The new regulations would have to be followed by all political organizations and party leaders will be expected to clearly state that their organizations are doing so. However, it is important to note that it was before Russia invaded Ukraine that there had been talk about making adjustments to the political funding rules in Ireland.
Darragh O’Brien had asked Paul Gallagher, the Attorney General, back in January to form a taskforce. This was to include political scientists as well as legal experts who would consider the need for introducing new laws for ensuring election integrity. He had said that Eastern Europe was experiencing security concerns and there had been an excessive number of cyberattacks in democratic countries. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has also involved cyberspace, as government databases and websites have experienced hacking attempts from both sides. Likewise, the two countries have also focused on cryptocurrencies to assist in the war and Ukraine has raised a significant amount in crypto donations.