Give back voting rights to Irish emigrants

A chara,

I would like to draw the attention of your readers to an important issue affecting many families in Ireland today, emigration, which is heartbreaking for emigrants and their families alike. To add insult to injury, Irish emigrants cannot at this time vote in any elections or referendums, a right which is taken away from them by the difficulty they find themselves in and through no fault of their own.

There are around 115 countries, including nearly all developed nations, that have systems in place to allow their emigrants to vote, and the number is growing. Even countries with very high rates of emigration, such as Italy, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico have recently allowed their emigrants to vote. Ireland is in a highly unusual situation in not allowing the majority of its overseas citizens any say in the political process.

Some might say, “No representation without taxation”, but no other nation seems to link emigrant voting with emigrant taxation, with the exception of the US, and even then the only people affected are those making over $85,000. And some might also suggest that Irish people abroad quickly lose touch with the country, and can't stay informed enough to vote responsibly. It’s easy to respond to this by pointing to the number of Irish clubs and societies that are in every country the Irish emigrate to, and the close contact maintained with those at home.

As the Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution is meeting to consider matters of electoral reform at the moment, it is an opportune time to clearly demonstrate the desire of the people of Ireland to give back voting rights to Irish citizens who have emigrated. We have set up a petition for this purpose at www.voicesofireland.net, which will be presented to Minister Gormley, and all support would be greatly appreciated.

Mise le meas

Ronan Burke.

 

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