Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil move on Diaspora voting rights ‘gutter stuff’ - Mary Lou McDonald TD
Sinn Féin Vice President Mary Lou McDonald TD, speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil this afternoon, has said the move by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to block the extension of Presidential voting rights to citizens in the north and the Diaspora in the Seanad yesterday was ‘gutter stuff’.
She went on to say that the extension of the franchise is “about connecting the people of the north and the Diaspora and giving them a place in our society”.
Teachta McDonald said:
“The Taoiseach is in the United States this week and I have no doubt he will be meeting with representatives of Irish America as part of his visit. I welcome that. Outreach and dialogue with our diaspora is essential.
“I know too that the Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin was in Queens University Belfast last week preaching the rights of citizens in the north to the benefits of EU citizenship. Again, I welcome that, but we need more than rhetoric.
“We need better than parties saying one thing and doing another.
“Yesterday in the Seanad, we got one of the worst examples of hypocrisy we have seen from either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil in the current term, when a Bill to give voting rights in Presidential elections to people in the north, people forced to emigrate and the Diaspora was voted down.
“When the opportunity to extend rights - when push came to shove - Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil both walked off the pitch. It’s gutter stuff, on an issue that should not be divisive - on an issue that’s about connecting the people of the north and the Diaspora and giving them a place in our society, that’s about giving those forced out during the economic crash a say.
“Eighteen years ago, the Good Friday Agreement enshrined in law the rights and entitlements of Irish citizens across all of Ireland’s thirty-two counties. It didn’t give partial citizenship or second-class citizenship. It gave full Irish citizenship as a birth right.
“Today is a new day, it’s the 1st December. Christmas is on people’s minds. Loved ones, friends and family are planning journeys home, from Canada, from Australia, from the US and around the world. Many more thousands of people won’t get home.
“So I would urge the government now to do the decent thing, the right thing, and commit to extending Presidential voting rights to Irish citizens, in the north and in the Diaspora”.