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Government must commit to extend voting rights to all Irish citizens – Cullinane

5 October, 2011

Speaking on a Sinn Féin Private Members Motion, on extending voting rights to Irish Citizens in the North and abroad, Senator David Cullinane stated that he was disappointed at the fact that the government didn’t support the motion.

Speaking in the Seanad Senator Cullinane said:

“Given the various parties’ previous commitments to extending voting rights, I am disappointed that the government failed to support our motion. Indeed we would have expected all party support for it.

“Fine Gael are on record as stating that Irish citizens living outside the 26 counties should be allowed to vote in presidential elections, subject to certain conditions, and likewise the Labour party are on record as advocating the extension of voting rights.

“We have the bizarre situation where both government parties talk about supporting the extension of voting rights but when it comes to a vote, they stand in opposition to the idea.

“The comments from government senators speaking against the motion stand in stark contrast with yesterday’s statement by the Taoiseach whereby he agreed that the Constitutional Convention should indeed consider the point of extending voting rights as suggested by the Sinn Féin motion.

“This is about enhancing the process made since the Good Friday Agreement, in developing a lasting peace and a political dispensation where all traditions can coexist respectfully. What’s more it is about vindicating the rights of citizens at home and abroad.

“There are hundreds of thousands of people who identify as Irish in the north and abroad, and furthermore they are citizens, who expect and indeed are entitled to expect legal protection and support from the state.

“The government cannot continue to pay lip service to Irish citizens in the north and abroad. If we were to take the approach that the Government has, we may as well blow out the candle that Mary Robinson lit to ‘light the way home’ for the hundreds of thousands of Irish citizens abroad.”

The Waterford Senator added that Sinn Féin will continue to campaign on this issue.

“Sinn Féin will work with all political parties and organisations including the One Voice, One Vote campaign to ensure that the rights of the people in Fermanagh, Belfast and Tyrone are same as those in Waterford, Cork and Clare.”

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