The men and women who fought in the Rising fought to create a Republic “elected by the suffrages of all her men and women” and made a commitment to cherish “all the children of the nation equally.”
This is a summary of what we believe should be included to begin to ensure Ireland’s emigrants are adequately represented in Ireland’s political process. Do you agree? Join us!
- A national referendum should be held in 2021 to allow all Irish citizens, including Irish emigrants and citizens residing in Northern Ireland, the right to vote in future Presidential elections
Ireland now has a two-tiered system of citizenship that denies about 1.5 million Irish citizens their right to vote because they are living overseas or on the wrong side of the Border. Under current Irish law a citizen’s geographic location is more important criteria for voting than citizenship of the nation. Ireland should fulfill the promise of the Easter Proclamation and reclaim the core democratic principle of one person, one vote.
- There is an urgent need to reform and update Ireland’s elections laws and mechanisms
The creation of the National Electoral Commission is long overdue. This commission should be stood up immediately in order to create a national voter registration system and automatic voter registration system. The Dail should follow up on the recommendations in the Final Report of the Citizens Assembly (June, 2018) to increase voter turnout including weekend voting, online voting, wider availability of postal voting, to vote at any polling station in the State, automatic inclusion of all eligible voters on the electoral register, etc. Consideration should be given to including democratic reform and electoral integrity in the National Planning Process.
- There should be recognition that linking taxation and voting rights is undemocratic.
No democratic society in the world including E.U. member states and the United States links the rights of citizens to vote to paying taxes. Indeed, the 24th Amendment of the U.S.Constitution was specifically written to prohibit any linkage between voting rights and paying taxes, including poll taxes.
- A reformed Seanad should include greater representation of emigrants and citizens residing in Northern Ireland
To accept recommendations of the Seanad Reform Working Group by extending the vote to citizens abroad and ensure Diaspora representation in the chamber.
- Ireland should meet European Union norms on voting rights for emigrants
In 2014 the E.U. Commission stated that citizens “exercising their right to free movement, should not be disenfranchised at national elections” yet hundreds of thousands of Irish citizens have lost their right to vote because they are working or living abroad. in 2018 the European Parliament took up the issue of voting rights and once again Ireland was cited for its poor voting mechanisms.
- A new permanent partnership with the growing global diaspora
To build upon the success of the Global Irish Civic Forum process these forums should be held every other year. Ireland should embrace a more expansive concept of Irish citizenship and recognize that the Irish Nation extends beyond its borders.
- Consider giving young people a voice: lower the voting age to 16
The 2013 Constitutional Convention was asked to consider the issue of lowering the voting age, and the majority of delegates (52%) voted in favour. In the same year the Scottish Parliament voted to lower the voting age to 16 in anticipation of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. A year later the Scottish Parliament voted to reduce the the voting age for the Scottish Parliament and local election to 16.
As Senator Billy Lawless, a co-founder of Voting Rights.ie, noted in a 2017 debate in the Seanad, “This could help change the agenda of local politics. Too often we hear that there are not enough amenities for young people, that they are not represented adequately and that they are left out of the community. Giving them a vote at this age would encourage local politicians to look at the issues facing young people in their communities. Perhaps we might even see more young people become involved in politics at local level. In 2015 the European Parliament passed a recommendation that the voting age in EU elections be reduced to 16 years in all member states. ”
The young people of Ireland who are now 16 years and older are now growing up in entirely different social, environmental and political landscape given the Covid-19 virus and the demand to respond to climate change and find affordable housing. These are immediate issues that will very much define this generation of young people. They deserve a say.