The Government has advertised a contract for the printing and supply of an estimated 3.8m referendum ballot papers.

In a notice published on the Government's e-tendering website yesterday, the Office of Public Works said the contract would involve printing 3,754,000 ballot papers for each referendum for a period of up to four years.

The papers would have to be printed in books of 50 and 100, and delivered to 23 locations around the State.

Tenders have to be received by 15 February.#

A spokesperson for the OPW denied that the e-tender notice had anything to do with this morning's reports regarding the Government's considerations about whether or not it will be necessary to have a referendum on the new EU intergovernmental treaty.

The spokesperson said the contract being put in place is to replace the previous five-year contract that expired in November of last year.

She said the new contract is for four years and the OPW has to forward plan to ensure that it has a contract in place in the event that it is requested to provide material for a referendum.