Government to send just one observer to US to monitor mid-term elections
Department of Foreign Affairs received 395 applications for new overseas election roster
Former US president Barack Obama joins Senator Bob Casey (D- PA), Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf (and other local Democratic candidates on stage at the end of a campaign rally on Friday in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Midterm election day is November 6th. Photograph: Mark Makela/Getty Images
The Department of Foreign Affairs is to send just one official observer to monitor the US mid-term elections, after it received 13 applications for the role.
Participants in the mission organised by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will observe election-related activities and voting in the Congressional elections on November 6th.
The decision to send an observer from the State in an official election monitoring role reverses the Government’s previous position that it does not monitor the conduct of democratic elections in the EU, the US or Canada.
The department has confirmed it received 13 applications from members of its election observer roster and said one observer had been nominated to travel to the US. That person is due to arrive in the US on October 6th and to depart on November 11th.
The department maintains a roster of Irish observers who participate in election missions primarily organised by the European Union and the OSCE.
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ciaran Cannon said last week that 395 applications have been received by the department for a new, five-year election monitoring roster. He was responding to a parliamentary question from Independent TD Tommy Broughan.
Members of the election roster who are nominated as long- or short-term observers by the department do not receive remuneration.
They are paid a daily allowance to cover the cost of food, accommodation and other out-of-pocket expenses, along with a pre-departure grant of €600.
Officials from the department told the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee in June there had been a delay in replacing the current five-year monitoring roster due to “staffing issues”.
Countries to which a total of 46 Irish observers were sent in 2017 included Armenia, Turkey, Albania, Mongolia, Kosovo, Kenya, Georgia, the Kyrgyz Republic, Liberia and Nepal. The total cost to the department of deploying observers was €253,677 last year.
* This article has been amended. Originally, it was reported that Tommy Broughan is an Labour TD. He is, in fact, an Independent, and has been since 2011