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Independent judgement on Voting for the Visually Impaired must be followed by Government – Ó Caoláin

30 March, 2017 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson on Disability Rights Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has called on the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Simon Coveney to take steps immediately to vindicate the constitutional rights of visually impaired voters to vote independently by secret ballot.

Deputy Ó Caoláin was speaking in light of the judgement handed down this morning in a case brought by Mr Robert Sinnott in which the High Court found that the State has a duty to provide arrangements allowing visually impaired people to vote privately and without assistance in elections and referendums where reasonably practicable and economically effective.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“Legislation has been on the statute books for over 20 years which would allow the Minister to introduce regulations to extend to visually impaired voters the right to vote independently by secret ballot, yet successive Ministers have ignored this issue. Mechanisms have been available for some time now to allow those with a visual impairment to vote independently and indeed have been available in the North for a number of years but these issues were not given the attention they required.

“I congratulate Mr Sinnott for his persistence and for having brought his case. However, it is a sad reflection on the respect shown to people with disabilities that today, 10 years after Ireland signed the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, an Irish citizen has to go to the High Court in an effort to force the Government to vindicate his right to vote by secret ballot.” 

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