Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Failure to resolve Presidential Votes for citizens in the North and abroad is a breach of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael commitments

13 December, 2016 - by Gerry Adams

Speaking in the Dáil today Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD challenged the Taoiseach on the failure of the government to resolve the issue of Presidential voting rights for citizens in the North and in the diaspora.

 Teachta Adams:

“The Constitutional Convention recommended that the right to vote in Presidential elections should be extended to citizens of the North who are full Irish citizens and to the diaspora, to those people forced out of this country. This followed on from commitments made by the previous Fianna Fáil government.

 More than 120 countries have legislated for their citizens living outside of the state to cast their vote. There has been an accelerating international trend towards allowing overseas citizens to vote.

This morning Councillors from four of the largest councils in the North, Mid Ulster; Derry City and Strabane; Newry, Mourne and Down; and Omagh all took part in a protest outside this building at the government’s deliberate long fingering of this issue.

Last week Uachtaráin Michael D Higgins held a ceremony for the Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad. In the course of that event the President reminded us that the “journey of the Irish emigrant stands as a testament to the creativity and resilience of all of those who left our shores over previous centuries”. He added: “They live fulfilling lives he told us, “in their respective countries while also remaining true to, and proud of, their Irish heritage.”

 Sadly, what they can’t do is vote in Presidential elections. This is a breach of commitments given over many years by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

 A few weeks ago Fianna Fail and Fine Gael voted against a Sinn Féin proposal to allow for this in the Seanad. On that occasion the Minister of State said that an options paper is being prepared which will outline the best approach to this issue. This paper must be produced quickly and the government needs to allow for it to be debated in the Dáil. We then need to move toward a referendum on this issue.”

 Concluding Gerry Adams said;

“President Michael D Higgins and before him, Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese, spoke and acted as Presidents of all of this island. This is how they are regarded throughout the island. Former President McAleese, if she had still been living in her native Belfast at the time of her election, could not have voted for herself. That is illogical.” ENDS

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