UPDATE: Robbie Sinnott case on voting for visually impaired people

2 May 2017

four courts side angle

The State was ordered by the High Court on Friday 28 April to pay the legal costs of Robbie Sinnott, a visually impaired man seeking to vindicate his right to vote privately and without assistance in referendums and elections.

The judge also made an order that the State has a duty to provide voting arrangements “where there are no disclosed reasonably practicable economic or effective reasons not to vindicate the right to mark ballot papers without assistance”.

Robbie Sinnott had taken a case against the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government asking the State to introduce measures that would enable him as a blind person to vote in secret. Despite the constitutional protection afforded to the right to a secret ballot, currently if a person with a visual impairment wishes to vote, they must do so through a ‘trusted friend’ or presiding officer.

On 30 March, the High Court ruled in favour of Mr Sinnott but invited submissions from both parties on the final wording of the two proposed declarations. 

Robbie is part of the Blind Legal Alliance which is supported by Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA). He was represented in his action by Eversheds Sutherland Solicitors and by Michael McDowell SC, Michael Lynn SC and Ciaran Doherty BL. 

You can read coverage of the case in the Irish Times and on the RTE website.