Carthy calls on government to hold referendum on extending presidential voting rights in 2019
Matt Carthy MEP has called on the government to proceed with the stated aim of holding a referendum to extend the franchise at presidential elections to Irish living abroad and in the North to coincide with the local and European elections in 2019.
Speaking this week, Carthy said:
“Tánaiste Simon Coveney recently confirmed in correspondence to me that the government’s was considering holding a referendum on presidential voting rights in 2019. I urge the government to proceed with this aim.
“Such a move would be a hugely important opportunity for people in our state to embrace those Irish citizens who have been forced to emigrate abroad from their country.
“Importantly, it would also be a massive signal to Irish citizens living in the North of Ireland who up to this point have had no say in the election of their president.
“However, there is no need for this proposal to be limited to presidential voting rights. Many countries in the EU allow for their citizens abroad to vote in referendums and national and local elections. Ireland is actually one of few countries that deny their citizens abroad from the right to vote.
“In 2014, the European Commission addressed a recommendation to the Irish government, along with four other Member States, calling for voting rights to be granted to their citizens, and outlining the multiple ways this can be achieved.
“Granting broad voting rights to Irish citizens living abroad would enhance democracy in our country. The European Commission’s communication recommends that the process of granting voting rights should be simplified, by allowing citizens living abroad to remain registered on the electoral roll, and through electronic means.
“Notably, Irish citizens working in the EU institutions have repeatedly called on the Irish government to grant their enfranchisement, who despite representing Ireland on a daily basis they are refused the right to vote in their home country. Ironically, considering that successive Irish governments have been so quick to jump to the tune of the European Commission across several policy areas, they have decided that it is on the issue of rights for Irish people to vote that they ignore EU recommendations.“I urge the government to proceed with the referendum on the proposed extension of presidential voting rights to citizens living in the North and to Irish living abroad as these are voices that have been excluded from our national discourse for too long.”