Ciara Kenny

The Irish Times forum by and for Irish citizens living overseas,

VICA submits papers calling for emigrant voting rights

Campaign group wants Constitutional Convention to discuss issue at meetings about electoral reform

Thu, Apr 25, 2013, 16:00


A group advocating voting rights for Irish emigrants has submitted papers to the Constitutional Convention calling for reform of the electoral system for Dáil and Presidential elections.

Votes for Irish Citizens Abroad (VICA) believes all citizens of the Republic of Ireland should be entitled to vote in elections and referenda, which could be facilitated through reserved constituencies.

“The immediate disenfranchisement of Irish citizens as soon as they leave the country is a source of anger and frustration” says VICA chairwoman Mary Hickman, professor of Irish studies at St Mary’s University in London.

“Irish citizens who have had to leave have no say about the direction the country should take.”

The group has been campaigning for emigrant voting rights since its establishment in London in 2010 through discussions, debates and public information campaigns in Ireland, Britain and the US.

The Constitutional Convention will meet in May to discuss electoral reform, while a September debate will concentrate on extending the franchise for presidential elections.

VICA sponsor and University College Dublin professor Diarmuid Ferriter says the lack of voting rights for Irish citizens abroad is a “fundamental injustice that needs to be rectified”.

“Ireland is out of step with 115 countries around the world in not enabling its citizens abroad to participate in national elections, depriving them of a voice or a role in shaping the future of their country,” he says.