The Irish Echo in Australia is the latest publication to report on the growing number of calls for Irish emigrant voting rights.
The article includes a summary of some of those who have called for emigrant voting rights in the past few weeks:
Trinity College politics lecturer Elaine Byrne used a discussion on RTÉ’s Marian Finucane show last month to call for Irish citizens abroad to be given votes in Seanad elections. December also saw anti-EU party the People’s Movement call for full voting rights for Irish citizens abroad.
“Votes for Irish emigrants in all national elections would present the opportunity to introduce real and radical alternatives to current political norms in Ireland,” said the movement’s spokesperson Mary Crotty in The Irish Times.
Economist David McWilliams said in a recent Irish Independent column that he would “extend the vote to everyone who is an Irish citizen no matter where they live” if he was Taoiseach.
It also gave a helpful rundown of the political parties’ positions:
Fine Gael and Labour published the policy document Reaching Out: Caring for The Irish Abroad in March 2006, in which the Seanad was mooted as a venue for emigrant voting.
Labour’s 2007 general election manifesto states that the party would support “emigrant representation in the Seanad for Irish communities abroad”. This will be reviewed before the next general election.
More recently, Fianna Fáil’s Programme For Government of October 2009 promised to establish an independent Electoral Commission. It was proposed that the commission could make recommendations on allowing Irish citizens abroad to vote in Presidential elections. Responsibility for this matter rested with the Department of Environment.
I would add to that the the Programme for Government pledged that those recommendations on overseas voting in presidential elections would be published by October 2010. That hasn’t happened, and I’ve written to the Department of the Environment to follow it up and am still awaiting a response.
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