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Saturday, October 1, 2022

Ireland will place restrictions on foreign political assistance for its political parties, including cryptocurrency contributions

A restriction on political parties accepting campaign contributions in cryptocurrencies is being considered by the Irish government, according to media reports. The action is intended to counter the perceived danger of Russian meddling in the European nation’s elections, which comes at a time when the West and Russia are at odds over the conflict in Ukraine.

According to reports, the executive authority in Dublin is working on new political integrity regulations to prohibit foreign political contributions amid concerns that Russia may attempt to influence Ireland’s election process. The tighter laws are intended to ban Irish political parties from taking contributions in the form of cryptocurrencies and to compel them to fully disclose their financial and other assets.

According to a report in the Irish daily Independent, the changes will result in a “significant shake-up” of the country’s electoral legislation, as the Electoral Commission will be given the authority to issue take-down notices to social media platforms as well as alerts when online misinformation attempts are made. Minister for Local Government Darragh O’Brien, who is in charge of the reform initiatives, has been reported as saying:

The heinous invasion of Ukraine and the diabolical misinformation campaign that has followed it have brought to light the continuing basic vulnerabilities that all democracies confront.

Aside from that, O’Brien said that his colleagues have already agreed to put in place the rigorous safeguards he is proposing in order to preserve Ireland’s “democratic system,” which is under attack from “escalating cyber warfare against free nations.” The Electoral Reform Bill 2022 will be used to make the necessary adjustments to the political fundraising rules in each jurisdiction.

According to the new Electoral Commission of Ireland, which is expected to be established by the summer, the commission will also be tasked with introducing guidelines for political advertising on the internet, which will include requirements for parties to clearly state how their advertisements are funded and the audiences they are targeting. Those in charge of political groups will have to certify that their organisations are complying with the new restrictions.

The proposal to alter the regulations governing political finance in Ireland was launched before Russia invaded Ukraine. Darragh O’Brien requested in January that Attorney General Paul Gallagher convene a taskforce comprised of legal experts and political scientists to study the need for new election integrity rules. The taskforce was established in February. Specifically, he was referring to “severe worries” about the worsening security situation in Eastern Europe, as well as the “well-documented intensification of cyberattacks against democratic countries.”

Meanwhile, cyberspace has emerged as a new front in Russia’s conflict with Ukraine, with both sides recording hacking assaults on government websites and databases in recent weeks. Additionally, both the Ukrainian government and the Russian Federation have shifted their focus to cryptocurrencies, with the Ukrainian government soliciting millions of dollars in cryptocurrency contributions while the Russian Federation is exploring the use of crypto assets to circumvent sanctions.

Chris Matthews
I am a Political News Journalist of The National Era
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