Sluggerotoole.com: “Voting rights for Irish emigrants”

6 Jan

Journalist Peter Geoghegan has a piece on emigrant voting rights on SluggerOToole.com, and it’s well worth reading, both for the article itself and for the lively debate that ensued.

A segment:

But in truth Irish emigrants should be expecting more than just the right to vote in the Seaned. Ireland is the only country in the EU, and one of only 50 countries around the world, that does not allow citizens living abroad to vote. Unlike citizens of Ghana, Mexico, Dominican Republic and around 115 other countries, Irish people living outside the Republic of Ireland are barred from directly participating in the electoral process.

Noreen Bowden, editor of GlobalIrish.ie, believes that Irish emigrants’ have paid the price for their own generosity:

“Irish people aboard are very generous to Ireland in so many ways so there’s never been much of a need to go the extra mile to engage with them politically. Many countries have allowed emigrants to vote as a way to encourage them to contribute economically. Ireland has never needed to do that.”

Emigrant voting rights have, of course, been on the political agenda in Ireland for quite some time. Back in the 1990s there were serious proposals to elect representatives of the Diaspora to the Seanad, in much the same way that universities hold six seats in the second house. Unfortunately this suggestion came to nought following a split between advocates of immediate full voting rights for emigrants and those who saw the Seanad as a first step towards this broader goal.

More recently a mandate to prepare a proposal for extending the franchise at presidential elections to include the Irish abroad was included in the current coalition’s Programme for Government. Even this proposition, which falls far short of the full representation emigrants’ deserve, has gone nowhere. Indeed both John Gormley and Brian Cowen denied all knowledge of it when questioned on the subject in the Dail by their own colleague Michael Martin.

The suggestion of emigrant voting proved highly controversial, and the comments are also worth reading.

Read the whole article on SluggerOToole.com.

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