Despite longstanding promises that the Irish government would this week debate and decide on the question of a presidential vote for Irish living abroad, they have failed to do so.
Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh criticized the government for failing the Irish diaspora again, by not following up on their commitment to implement the Constitutional Convention's recommendation to hold a referendum on voting rights in Presidential elections for Irish citizens abroad.
Senator Ó Clochartaigh noted that the recently appointed Minister for the Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan “has been traveling extensively, giving the impression that a decision on this was imminent. It is clear that he has failed to impress this on his Cabinet colleagues who have once more kicked these rights to touch.”
“Sinn Féin had been advocating for these rights for a very long time and we would also like to see the debate extended to voting rights in Dáil & Seanad elections also,” he added in a statement. "We also need to address the issue of representation for the diaspora in the Seanad itself."
According to globalirish.ie, a 2006 study of countries that allow their emigrants to vote included:
- 21 African nations
- 13 North and South American countries
- 15 Asian countries
- 6 Pacific countries
- 36 European countries.
Sixty-five of these countries allow for external voting for everyone, while about 25 place restrictions on it, based on such factors as to whether they intend to return permanently or how long they have been away. Citizens in the US can vote no matter how long they stay away, while citizens of Britain are disqualified after fifteen years away.
Some countries, like France, reserve seats in their parliaments for citizens who live abroad, while others vote in the constituency in which they used to live. Other countries only allow for votes in national or presidential elections.
Emigrant advocacy groups had been actively campaigning this week. We’re Coming Back is planning to hold a #toastforavote event on Friday, which already has almost 600 attendees.