Irish Emigrant Voting Rights

The time is right for a new debate on voting rights for Irish citizens abroad.

We’ve launched a petition to be submitted to the Irish government, and if you support the principle of emigrant voting rights you can sign the PETITION HERE.

PRECEDENTS

These European countries already allow expat voting in various forms in general elections:
Austria
Belgium
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Italy
Luxembourg
Spain
Netherlands
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Slovakia
Sweden
Switzerland
United Kingdom

And in total 115 countries, including nearly all developed nations, have recognised the benefits in ensuring their emigrants remain enfranchised by giving them some form of elected political representation.

THOUGHTS ON THE IRISH PERSPECTIVE

  • We are in a new era of mass emigration
  • Modern communication systems allow citizens abroad to keep up to date
  • Most emigrants currently leaving envisage returning to Ireland in the future
  • Recent EU research shows that young Irish have a higher than average interest in politics
  • Ireland is looking for new ways to engage with its diaspora
  • Irelands emigrants invariably refer to Ireland as home
  • We can either cherish the bond, or not!
  • A healthy diaspora relationship relies on both mutual benefit and mutual responsibility

This is the 21st century and our highly educated people represent a valuable investment built up over the last 20 years or so. Are we going to close the door behind them and make the same mistakes as the past, or are we going to recognise the mutual potential that enfranchisement offers. If we can accept the economic input that the IMF brings to the table surely we can place the same or greater value on Irelands most important assets, our people.

I’m sure there are many other considerations and feel free to leave a comment. The main objective now however is to gather support and get the issue onto the government agenda. How voting rights can be implemented in a way that is fair can be identified in a review process. Structure and restrictions can be determined once the basic principle is accepted.

When you sign THE PETITION you are supporting a very simple request :

I believe in the principle of voting rights for Irish emigrants and I request that the Irish government identify and implement a fair system of voting rights for Irish citizens abroad.’

CONSOLIDATING OUR EFFORTS
If you’re part of an organisation or an individual with a measure of influence who also believes in the principle of voting rights for emigrant Irish please get in touch. It would make sense to combine our efforts so that any submission to government authorities can be timed in a way to give weight to that submission.

Now, let’s see what we can achieve!


UPDATES:

Ballotbox.ie is a new site where Irish emigrants who are not allowed to vote in the forthcoming General Election can cast a symbolic ballot.

And here’s some welcome thoughts from Simon Coveney FG TD, Cork South Central:

Listen!

Listen!

And the speech by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, Sinn Féin Dáil Leader, at the London Irish Centre on 4/11/2010 : Voting Rights for the Irish Diaspora in Britain.

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Comments

Irish Emigrant Voting Rights — 10 Comments

  1. I support this. It's disgusting that foreigners temporarily in Ireland can vote in irish elections and help decide who rules Ireland (Ireland has the laxest Naturalization process in the world) while Irish people forced to emigrate because of the lousy Fianna Fail/Green government are disenfranchised. One of the effects of this is keep the status quo, since immigrants to a country have been shown to support the political party that allowed them into the country. It's no accident that Fianna Fail has promoted Mass Immigration for a decade and more. Indeed there was a Fianna Fail cumann organized at the Mosney Asylum Seeker center.

    • Come on George, that has to be the most racist view. I am Irish living in London and have happily passed up on the chance to vote in Irish elections. I don't live there and I vote in the local UK and EU elections. Makes sense, as I haven't lived in East Meath for the best part of 12 years. Things move on. As for those in Mosney, seriously do you think being holed up in a camp, that the Irish vote is some remedy for appalling conditions? I can assure, Fianna Fail and the main parties are not seen in such favourable light by these people.

      To date I have attended debates in Irish Centre in Camden on this topic and raised maybe a compromise of the Seaned vote. Lets say it didn't go down well. In fact when I raised the NUI vote abroad, fellow Irish men viewed me with contempt and with a twinkle in their eye felt that there unfortunate lives, them being educated in the school of life, entitled them to vote in the national Irish elections. I found this bizarre as I am a self funding PhD student research Irish fathers and working full time as a social worker in Peckham with very marginalised minorities.

      If Irish Diaspora is to make an impression on this debate, it needs to have a mature philosophical debate on what the Diaspora means to the Irish nation, as well as who in the Diaspora is included in the debate. My own experiences has been the Irish Diaspora lobby in London excludes Irish graduates from NUI and therefore the Diaspora enters the realm of exclusion, like those in Mosney, acknowledged in the debate but whose voice is neither wanted or respected.

  2. Come on George, that has to be the most racist view. I am Irish living in London and have happily passed up on the chance to vote in Irish elections. I don't live there and I vote in the local UK and EU elections. Makes sense, as I haven't lived in East Meath for the best part of 12 years. Things move on. As for those in Mosney, seriously do you think being holed up in a camp, that the Irish vote is some remedy for appalling conditions? I can assure, Fianna Fail and the main parties are not seen in such favourable light by these people.

    To date I have attended debates in Irish Centre in Camden on this topic and raised maybe a compromise of the Seaned vote. Lets say it didn't go down well. In fact when I raised the NUI vote abroad, fellow Irish men viewed me with contempt and with a twinkle in their eye felt that there unfortunate lives, them being educated in the school of life, entitled them to vote in the national Irish elections. I found this bizarre as I am a self funding PhD student research Irish fathers and working full time as a social worker in Peckham with very marginalised minorities.

    If Irish Diaspora is to make an impression on this debate, it needs to have a mature philosophical debate on what the Diaspora means to the Irish nation, as well as who in the Diaspora is included in the debate. My own experiences has been the Irish Diaspora lobby in London excludes Irish graduates from NUI and therefore the Diaspora enters the realm of exclusion, like t

  3. Bernadette and Mick; congrats on the website. I hope to link in, as we run the National University of Ireland Club London, where we encourage NUI graduates in London to use their vote for the benefit of the Irish community in London. Unfortunately the Irish community here doesn't get the potential to use the vote, what are your guys views. Current there are 7,000 NUI graduates living abroad and that is the equivalent of 2 Senator Seats in the NUI Constituency and a considerable voice for your campaign.

    • Hi Aodhan,

      Thanks for the comment. Our thoughts are fairly basic at the moment, simply that the timing is right for a new debate on voting rights. Up front, whilst representation in the Seanad is pertinent we also believe that representation in the Dail is a valid objective. How this can be achieved (constituency/ies possibly?) can be determined further down the line.

      At this stage we're just trying to generate / guage support, and if a growing concensus develops to combine our efforts with others on the same trail. Any support is welcome, we're politically neutral and would like to see a growing momentum that pushes the need for a new debate onto the government agenda.

      All the best, Mick

  4. Pingback: Diaspora.ie: “Irish Emigrant Voting Rights Petition” « Global Irish Vote

  5. If your talking about having postal rights for a couple of years I'd be in favour, but any longer than five and I'd be very against it.
    There are no specifics on the site to discuss, but I would NOT like to see a situation where people absent from the country have a significant effect on the people living here. As time goes on you'll naturally be more familiar with your host countries politics rather than Ireland's.
    Same goes for the immigrants that have moved here. Unlike George Dillon, I would prefer to see immigrants who've lived here for 10 years voting, rather than to see Irish people who left 10 years ago having a vote.
    After 5 years you've made your choice. If you want to vote come back, so that you can experience the consequences of your vote.
    Also, I, as an Irish person living in Ireland do not welcome the IMF and do not accept that they are the only choice. The politicians have utterly failed us by bowing first to the markets and then the IMFs wishes.

    • Hi Gordon,
      Thanks for the comment – you're not the first to ask about our own thoughts and i'll be adding something to the post over the next day or so. The original idea was to try and get some momentum going without being prescriptive, but maybe it'll help to put some food for thought up.

      Cheers,
      Mick.

  6. As an Irish National the constitutional provides the right to vote in Irish elections; a right taken away by a law that – in principal – is undemocratic. I cannot agree with the concept of limitations; while I've been overseas for over 20 years, (in many countries), I've never been a resident or citizen of any other country. In principal I view this as a simple civil rights issue; its my right guaranteed by the constitution of the land of my birth and sole citizenship. Equally I'm not an economic refugee (as described by someone earlier). I left Ireland – originally for a few months; I've enjoyed the life I've been fortunate enough to experience and plan to continue this way of life as long as I can. However – I would like to vote; this is an important act for all citizens of all liberal democratic countries to exercise.

    Regards.

  7. A very interesting topic and one I’ll keep an eye on. For now I can’t get past the logic of argument set by Gordon Lucas. Fergal’s civil rights issue sounds a plausible point but fundamentally what of the rights of the resident citizens if they end up having to live by the results of elections swung by non residental citizens. I know this is an unlikey situation due to the numbers involved but the priniciple remains.

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