I received an official notice today that if I register by February 26 I can vote in the next Irish senate election set for 2016.
There it is at last – the Irish emigrant vote.
Except it’s not.
My brother-in-law Ciaran Staunton, living in Queens via Mayo, received no such notification nor will he.
He can stand by his mailbox all day long and no letter will arrive.
As it turns out, as a university graduate, I can vote in the Irish senate election for one of the representatives from the university panel.
There will be a bunch of these senators elected by a handful of graduate votes. Some senators are quite famous like David Norris, who led the fight for gay equality in Ireland.
Ciaran, however, is not entitled to vote for Norris or anyone else.
He went to the school of hard knocks. Large family, rural Mayo, small farm, emigrant boat to London, then America.
You know the story; millions have done it.
I left after graduating from University College Dublin with a rather unspectacular Arts degree.
This, apparently, makes me more Irish, more qualified.
Mind you, I haven’t helped out hundreds of Irish strays over the years like Ciaran has by getting them jobs.
I haven’t turned my bars into semi-official Irish embassies where Irish leaders drop in for a pint and to get the best advice.
I haven’t led the charge these past few years to legalize the Irish. I haven’t organized the Irish lobby day in Washington on March 12 to help the undocumented.
But nonetheless, I and everyone else with that magic graduate diploma can vote in an Irish election for the upper chamber. But Ciaran and his like can't.
And there are hundreds of thousands just like him, from The Bronx to Brisbane, who cannot.
This folks, is a tale of two countries: one open for the “educated” to vote in senate elections and the other for the school of hard knocks folks to wonder when, if ever, they will have the opportunity.
Maybe the masters of the Irish universe fear the unwashed ones would have to sign with an X.
I wrote back to the senate folks saying I won’t be taking my vote until all emigrants have a voice either through emigrant representatives or a vote and then I mailed it.
Funny, I’m not holding my breath for a response.