Registrar rejects opposing bids to use National Party name in elections

Factions led by Justin Barrett and James Reynolds both made applications to An Coimisiún Toghcháin

The Registrar of Political Parties has decided to reject applications from two opposing factions of the right-wing National Party both seeking to secure the right to use the party name going into the local and European elections.

A statement from An Coimisiún Toghcháin, the Electoral Commission, said a number of submissions made by both sides had been considered and “it has been decided by the registrar that there were significant procedural difficulties with both applications”.

As a result no changes will be made to the Register of Political Parties which currently lists party founder Justin Barrett and James Reynolds as the authorised officers of the National Party.

Its address is given as Mr Barrett’s home address in Granard, Co Longford.


The commission said the decision by registrar Art O’Leary had been published in official State gazette Iris Oifigiúil on Friday.

The commission statement added: “as the parties are entitled to seek an appeal within the given time frame under the Electoral Reform Act we will not be making any further comment about the decisions”.

Last July then-National Party deputy leader Mr Reynolds and his supporters issued a statement saying Mr Barrett had been removed from his position of party leader. The statement cited a lack of confidence and a hands-off leadership style that had “allowed the party to go to seed”.

Mr Barrett subsequently made a complaint to An Garda Síochána that gold bars worth an estimated €400,000 had been removed from a vault in Dublin by the other faction. The bullion was recovered by the Garda, which then tried to establish its legal ownership. The other faction said it had transferred the gold to another vault to prevent Mr Barrett gaining access to it.

Several politicians, including Senator Michael McDowell, asked how a micro-party with no public representatives could have amassed such a quantity of gold. Mr Barrett had previously said it was “dearly gathered by the sacrifice of party members and supporters over these many years”.

The National Party has never submitted details of party finances to the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo), but the ethical watchdog says it has no authority to penalise parties for not submitting accounts.

Since the split, the faction led by Mr Reynolds, a Co Longford farmer, has continued to hold meetings and elected him as permanent leader at an annual general meeting held in Portlaoise, Co Laois, in December.

Mr Barrett has claimed it has been able to portray itself publicly as the National Party only because Mr Reynolds’ faction seized control of the party’s social media accounts, including Facebook, X and Instagram.

The Reynolds faction contacted the Electoral Commission last July to request the Register of Political Parties be updated to remove Mr Barrett’s name as an authorised officer and to change the address of the party’s headquarters.

Ten days later Mr Barrett made his own submission to the commission.

The registrar received further submissions from both sides.

Mr Reynolds’ faction previously told The Irish Times it believed the submissions made to Mr O’Leary were “sufficiently strong to demonstrate the validity of the change of leadership in 2023”.

It said that party had held an AGM of paid-up members in Portlaoise on December 16th. It had elected nine members of a new national directorate (now renamed ardchomhairle). The Electoral Commission had been made aware of this, it said.

On Friday the Reynolds’ faction told The Irish Times: “The current situation has not prevented the party from continuing to function and grow. The National Party is focused on contesting the upcoming European and local elections on 7th June. Candidates have already been selected and several more will be announced in the coming weeks.”

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times