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Adams criticises Kenny over scrapping of referendum on the Presidential franchise

15 November, 2016 - by Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has described An Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s rejection today of a promised referendum in 2017 on the right of Irish citizens in the North and in the Diaspora to vote in Presidential elections as “unacceptable and deeply disappointing”.

The Sinn Féin leader also criticised the announcement by the Taoiseach ruling out a referendum before the next Presidential election in 2018.

In his response to a question from the Sinn Féin leader the Taoiseach excused the delay in holding the referendum on the need for officials to determine who would be included in a new franchise; what categories of people would be covered; and the cost of the venture.

Gerry Adams said:

“The Taoiseach’s response was inadequate and deeply disappointing. The right of citizens in the North to vote in Presidential elections should not be dictated by how much it might cost.

“The Constitutional Convention voted on this issue three years ago in September 2013. A significant majority of its members agreed to extend voting rights to Irish citizens living abroad and in the North.  In November last year the Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Affairs made a recommendation to extend the voting rights also, following criticism by the European Commission.

“The government has had three years in which to answer the questions the Taoiseach is now posing as if for the first time. This is not good enough. Mr Kenny cannot say he is for a referendum on extending the franchise in Presidential elections and then thwart the process by which it can be established.

“On two occasions this year, the Minister for the Diaspora Joe McHugh indicated that the Irish Government would hold a referendum on voting rights for the Diaspora in early 2017. The Taoiseach has now scuppered this. He has also ruled out any referendum prior to the next Presidential election in 2018.

“Sinn Féin believes that Irish citizens living and working outside of the state, and in the context of the Good Friday Agreement, those living in the North should be able to vote in Presidential elections.

“The diaspora is a fundamentally important part of the Irish nation, in both historical and contemporary terms. Extending voting rights and allowing the Irish diaspora to express their democratic voice is a sensible and inclusive action which would improve and strengthen our relationship with the diaspora.”

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