Recently launched “Get the Boat 2 Vote” campaign members have written an open letter to Robin Kiely, Head of Communications for Ryanair, asking the company to consider discounted flights for immigrants wishing to return home to Ireland and vote in the marriage equality referendum on May 22.

Under the 1963 Electoral Act, Irish citizens living abroad retain their right to vote in elections and referenda for 18 months after leaving Ireland.  However, there is no postal vote facility meaning if they do want to cast a ballot, they must return to Ireland to do so. Get The Boat 2 Vote is a campaign that encourages vote-eligible Irish emigrants to travel home and help see the referendum passed.

Campaign founder Joey Kavanagh said “We launched a campaign called Get The Boat 2 Vote, calling on vote-eligible Irish abroad to travel home and vote yes for equality on May 22nd. Originally a lot of us planned traveling home by ferry, but the campaign has grown and, for many of the people we have been in contact with, flying home is the only option if they wish to vote. With this in mind, we are appealing to Ryanair to assist these individuals in having a say in Irish democracy by offering discount fares on flights to Irish airports in the run-up to the referendum.”

So far, over 500 people have signed up to the Get The Boat 2 Vote campaign, with most people planning on travelling from mainland Europe but some also from the US, Canada and even Australia to cast their votes on May 22nd.

Ryanair have helped transport thousands of young emigrants to new homes in far-flung places in recent years. Campaign members are now asking them to assist in bringing these young people home, so they can help ensure the referendum is passed and be party to a massive step forward for equality in Ireland. The youth vote has been described as critical to success for Yes on May 22 and research shows that the majority of recent emigration has seen citizens leave the country in their twenties.

Campaign member Jennifer Browne says "We think this represents a great opportunity for Ryanair to stand proudly on the right side of history and to help make Ireland a more welcoming destination for people of all walks of life."