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Government has broken promises on Presidential Referendum - Gerry Adams TD

18 January, 2015 - by Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin President and Louth TD Gerry Adams has expressed his disappointment at the refusal of the Government to hold a referendum, as recommended by the Constitutional Convention, on extending the vote in Presidential elections to Irish citizens living in the north or in the diaspora.

The Louth TD said: “The Cabinet decision not to hold a referendum on extending voting rights to the diaspora and to citizens in the north in Presidential elections is a slap in the face to all of those Irish citizens who want to contribute to the Irish nation.”

Speaking in Dundalk Mr. Adams said:

“Last week in the Dáil I challenged the Taoiseach on the Cabinet decision that only two referendums – one on marriage equality and the other on age eligibility for candidates in Presidential elections - will be taken before the end of this government.

“In the Programme for Government the two government parties talked about being a ‘reforming government’. And when the Constitutional Convention was established the Taoiseach described it as “a significant, historic event in the political and democratic life of this country… which puts the people in their proper place at the very heart of the process, because it is to them that the Constitution of our country belongs.”

“But when the people, as represented by those participating in the Constitutional Convention, proposed serious constitutional change the government has chosen to ignore it and to break public commitments made.

“The decision to put on the back burner the extension of the Presidential vote to Irish citizens in the north and to the diaspora will anger many of these who believe they should have a stake in the important function of electing the President of Ireland.

“More than 120 countries have legislated for any of their citizens living outside of the state to cast their vote. Over the last six years almost half a million citizens have been forced to emigrate in search of work and a new life overseas. Only for the austerity policies being pursued by the last Fianna Fáil government and the current Fine Gael and Labour government many of these citizens would never have left.

“I challenged the Taoiseach to review his decisions. He arrogantly claimed that people would be put off by too many referendum being held on the same day, or they would say that they don’t understand what is before them, or that they would need more time and that they may not all be interested in referenda.

“This is a very elitist and condescending attitude by the Taoiseach. Either the people are, as the Taoiseach has claimed, are at the heart of the process or they are not. He should stop making excuses and provide citizens with the opportunity they desire and deserve to reshape the constitution.”

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