Government must publish Bill to allow for referendum on Presidential Voting rights - Gerry Adams TD
Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has called on the Taoiseach to honour his commitment to publish the Bill by the end of the month to allow for a referendum in October/November to extend the franchise to elect the President.
Writing in his weekly Blog Gerry Adams said:
“In February An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he wanted to hold the Presidential referendum in October. His proposal was that all citizens, wherever they live in the world, 'ill be entitled to register to vote for the next President'.
“It will be a postal ballot for those not living in the state and it would not be linked to a passport because there are citizens who do not have passports. Varadkar said: 'As a result it will be linked to citizenship'.
“Agreeing the date and passing the legislation is only one part of the battle ahead. Holding the referendum is important. Winning the referendum is essential.
“The arguments against a referendum and for a NO vote include the claim that the current electorate would be swamped by the diaspora and voters from the North.
“Of over 120 countries around the world who allow their overseas citizens to vote in elections none has ever raised a concern about this aspect of it.
“On the contrary the evidence suggests that the relatively small number of citizens abroad who do vote in elections generally follow the pattern of those living within the state.
“Another argument heard is a variation on the slogan from the American Revolution’s ‘no taxation without representation’.
“In this instance it has become ‘no representation without taxation.’ In short if you don’t pay taxes you shouldn’t be allowed to vote.
“This is a deeply flawed position which if followed through logically would mean that pensioners, citizens on low incomes, parents who stay at home with their children, citizens with a disability, in fact anyone who doesn’t pay taxes for any reason should not have the right to vote.
“The Office of the President and the role of the Presidency in the day to day life of the Irish nation is hugely symbolic and important.
“A successful referendum campaign which actively seeks to encourage those who are unionist to vote for the President would set a powerful example of the kind of shared, fair and equality based society we all want to build on our island.
“Finally, in the past, especially around the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement, the role of the diaspora was very important.
“One hundred years ago women were denied the vote. Fifty years ago citizens in the North were denied a vote.
“They are still denied this vote. If former President Mary McAleese had stayed in Ardoyne she could not have voted for herself when she stood in the Presidential election.
“Martin McGuinness had no vote when he stood. We can now change this. Let’s do it”.
Note to Editor: Gerry Adams Blog can be found at www.leargas.blogspot.com