Jim Higgins MEP for Ireland North West has said that the Government needs to review the legislation which bans people born in Ireland but now working abroad from voting in the presidential elections.
“The President is supposed to represent all Irish people, including the Diaspora,” Mr Higgins said. “It is absolutely unfair that there are so many Irish people having to move away because of the economic crisis, but who will have to give up their right to vote. It is bad enough that people are forced to emigrate, but it is a shameful disgrace that Irish people cannot go to the embassy in whatever country they are working in, in order to have their say as to who is the president in their homeland.
“Not only this, but in many instances, Irish citizens do not have a vote in their new adopted country,” he added. “When I explain the situation to MEPs from other states, they are shocked and ask why the situation is allowed to continue.
“When there are elections in other countries, citizens are able to either cast a vote through the post, or else visit their local embassy in order to have their say. What kind of democracy are we living in if our young people are not given the chance to express themselves? Irish people fought long and hard for our vote, and yet we are still telling our people that if you don't live in Ireland, you cannot vote. There are now thousands of young Irish people working abroad, who will not be able to travel home to vote and will miss out.
“Not only is it unfair but the UN has a clear policy on the rights of citizens to vote,” said Mr Higgins. “Article 25 of General Comment No 25 states clearly 'the Covenant recognises and protects the right of every citizen to take part in the conduct of public affairs, the right to vote and to be elected.”