Second emigrant to run for Seanad election
Ed Davitt in Brussels and Barry Johnston in London launch campaign for emigrant voting rights
Barry Johnston (left) and Ed Davitt (right) have both announced their intention to run as independent candidates for the Seanad from abroad.
A second Irish person living abroad has announced he will run as a candidate in the Seanad election this year.
Ed Davitt, a 35-year-old from Dublin who has been working for an environmental NGO in Brussels for four years, will stand as an independent candidate on the Trinity College panel.
He joins Barry Johnston, a Roscommon man working in human rights advocacy in London, who announced his candidacy for the NUI panel in December.
Both candidates are running as independents to represent Irish emigrants in the Seanad, and to campaign for voting rights for Irish citizens overseas.
Ireland has been criticised by the European Commission for “disenfranchising” its citizens abroad by not allowing them to vote. More than 120 countries worldwide have some provision to allow emigrants to cast a ballot by post or in embassies.
Mr Johnston and Mr Davitt published their “emigrant manifesto” today, outlining their campaign for voting rights for Irish citizens overseas.
The document is based on an online survey of Irish people living abroad, which received 159 responses, and consultations with Irish emigrant organisations including Crosscare Migrant Project in Dublin, the Irish Business Network in Berlin, the Irish Australia Chamber of Commerce, and the London Irish Centre, as well as the Votes for Irish Citizens Abroad Campaign and VotingRights.ie.
The “manifesto” calls for the right to vote in Dáil elections for all Irish-born citizens living abroad, in reserved constituencies specially for the Irish overseas, and for the establishment of an electoral commission to begin the implementation process within the first 100 days of the new government.
“As an Irish person living abroad, I see my friends and colleagues voting at their embassies or by post every election time, while I and my fellow Irish are disenfranchised,” Mr Davitt said.
“I am running in this election to ask for what almost developed democracy in the world already provides - the right to stay engaged with the political process in a country that we hope to return to in the future.”
Mr Johnston said denying the vote to overseas citizens was “undemocratic, out of step with other European countries, and sends a message that the Irish abroad are barred from any role in shaping the future of the country regardless of their intention to return”.
Under current electoral legislation, Irish citizens retain the right vote for 18 months after they leave the country, if they intend to return to live in Ireland within that timeframe, but they must travel back to their home constituency to do so.
Emigrants who would like a vote are being encouraged to post “voiceless selfie” photographs of themselves on social media this weekend with their hands over their mouths, to symbolise their “disenfranchisement”.