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Irish citizens living abroad should be allowed to vote at home – Reilly

5 February, 2014

Sinn Fein Spokesperson on Europe Union Affairs Senator Kathryn Reilly has reiterated the call for Irish citizens living abroad to be allowed to vote in elections at home.

Senator Reilly was speaking in the Seanad during statements on EU Affairs today, Senator Reilly said:

“Sinn Féin firmly believes in the core republican principle of equal citizenship. It is also appropriate to note that Article 2 of the Constitution asserts the right of Irish citizens, be they at home or abroad, to play an active role in their own country.

“One of the most important facts to remember in this debate is that complete voting disenfranchisement of citizens resident outside the State is the exception, not the rule, for countries around the world.

“According to research by the Overseas Vote Foundation, 115 other countries extend some form of the right to vote to citizens living abroad. Indeed in the EU, five member states including Ireland currently have national rules leading to a loss of national voting rights as a result of periods spent abroad.

“The right to have a say in the democratic process in their home State is extended to emigrated citizens of almost every other European country. In addition, ensuring that non-resident citizens maintain the right to vote in their country of origin may now also be regarded as an emerging EU norm, and an aspect of respecting the EU fundamental right to free movement.

“Thus, the recent recommendation of the EU Commission that all EU citizens should be able to maintain their right to vote in their country of origin, if living elsewhere in the EU, is welcome. The Commission maintains that to disenfranchise such citizens is to effectively punish them for exercising their right of free movement."

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