Student seeks rights for NI citizens to vote in abortion referendum

Belfast student claims Irish citizens in North have constitutional right to vote

Counting of votes during the abortion referendum in 2002. File photograph: Frank Miller

Counting of votes during the abortion referendum in 2002. File photograph: Frank Miller

 

A student from Belfast is seeking permission from the High Court in Dublin to challenge the State’s failure to allow citizens living in Northern Ireland vote in the referendum on the eighth amendment.

When the matter came before Mr Justice Charles Meenan in the judicial review list this week, he said, because a date has yet to be set for the referendum and the necessary legislation allowing it to be held has not yet been enacted, he was adjourning the leave application to April 9th.

He directed that the application should be made on notice to the Taoiseach, Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Minister for Health, the Minister for Justice and Equality and the Attorney General.

In the proposed judicial review, the student Roisín Morelli claims citizens of Northern Ireland are also Irish citizens and have a constitutional right to vote in such referendums.

The Government’s failure to give reasons for why this constitutional right is curtailed for citizens of Northern Ireland is wholly irrational.

Ms Morelli is represented by the Belfast law firm of Madden & Finucane.

Her solicitor Michael Halleron said the case is a matter of national importance and all citizens on the island of Ireland should be entitled to vote in the referendum.

The precise date of the referendum will be set following a debate on the relevant Bill in the Dáil and the Seanad.