Votes for Irish citizens abroad?

A voice for the diaspora?

Sir, – Fr Joe McVeigh (Letters, February 21st) suggests allowing Irish citizens in Northern Ireland vote in all future presidential elections as “the President is President for all of Ireland”. There’s a cohort of people in the North who vehemently disagree with this definition.

Also, giving citizens living abroad the right to vote in presidential elections because the role has no political clout is a delusion.

Why? If granted, it would be used in any campaign for their right to vote in general elections. – Yours, etc,





Sir, – Fr Joe McVeigh wishes for Irish citizens of Northern Ireland to have a vote in the election of the president of Ireland. There is already a head of state in Northern Ireland. He is called King Charles III due to the fact that they are living in a part of the United Kingdom. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 1.

A chara, – You have had much interesting correspondence following the opinion piece from Billy Cantwell (“Irish people aged 25 to 44 are emigrating again. Giving them the vote in Irish elections is a no-brainer”, Opinion & Analysis, February 18th). We have the two usual and very opposing positions, either for or against, based on views of representation and responsibility. However, there is a happy and very workable middle ground, one used by most of our fellow members in the European Union, that is the model of dedicated expatriate parliamentary constituencies.

Here in France, for a population of 67 million, represented in parliament by 577 deputies, there are 11 deputies representing the two million French citizens living outside of the country, this includes French citizens living in Ireland. The two million non-resident citizens are underrepresented but at least they have a voice and no one accuses them of disrupting the local democratic process.

Closer to Ireland in terms of demographics and large diaspora is Portugal, a country of 10 million, with a direct diaspora of two million, that is born in the country and now living aboard. In effect, Portugal has twice the comparable figures for Ireland, if we can say that the Republic of Ireland has a population of five million with one million living abroad. Portugal has a parliament of 230 deputies, with four deputies representing the two million living outside of the country. This expatriate representation is numerically insignificant, 2 per cent of deputies for 20 per cent of the citizens; it in no way disrupts resident representation.

Ireland can do likewise, create an emigrant Dáil constituency with a modest number of two deputies. A small but powerful gesture. The Republic will uphold the principles of democracy and inclusivity, vindicate the voting rights of its disenfranchised citizens, create meaningful connection with our Diaspora, and at the same time allay the fears of local disruption. – Yours, etc,




Sir, – Several letter-writers oppose the vote for Irish citizens abroad, on the assumption that those abroad won’t be affected by policies made at home. This is untrue, and a compelling reason for a vote for all Irish citizens, in fact, is that voters at home regularly make decisions affecting those abroad without having any idea of the potential impact.

Anyone who has worked in Ireland may be affected by decisions on contributory pension levels and on the taxation of pension accounts. People with any property will be affected by taxation decisions. The state of the economy and the housing market will affect any citizen’s ability to move home. Levels of consular protection and emigrant support directly affect the welfare of overseas citizens, as can diaspora policy. Returning citizens can face barriers due to spousal immigration politics, eligibility for jobseekers or carer’s allowances, or education policies.

When citizens abroad have no representation, their interests remain unknown, their fellow citizens remain unaware, and no politician is accountable to them. Of course, the wealthy and powerful among the Irish abroad will always be able to whisper into the ear of an Irish politician, vote or no vote; it is the ordinary citizen living abroad whose voice will go unheard. – Yours, etc,


New City,

New York.