The diaspora and voting rights

 

Sir, – Voting rights in Dáil and presidential elections and referendums in the Republic of Ireland have always been based on residence. In my view, that is how it should be.

There is a key principle here and we should stick with it. There are many people who do not live in the State but are part of the nation. I respect absolutely their Irishness and their right to so identify. However, the laws and jurisdiction of the Republic only apply in this State. Therefore a vote on our Government structures should be held and exercised by those living in the State or who are external to it for short periods.

Extending the right to vote to all those aged over 18, irrespective of nationality, living in the State for a reasonably defined period of time is the truly democratic thing to do and not the tokenism in the programme for government and similar proposals in many party manifestos about extending same to the presidential elections. Indeed, in my view, it demeans the office of president by implying that it is a vote of lesser consequence. – Yours, etc,

DERMOT LACEY,

Donnybrook,

Dublin 4.

A chara, – I read with some bemusement of the Government’s initiative regarding the multitude of diasporas which Ireland is apparently eager to court. While the wish to reconnect with those who left Ireland for reasons not of their choosing is to be welcomed, it will take more than warm words and a few advertisements.

Many Irish people abroad will see this as the political – and economic – sop that it seems to be.The shameful refusal, expressed in the 27th Amendment, to “grant” automatic citizenship to all those born in Ireland puts this initiative into perspective.

Born in Belfast, I have held an Irish passport all my life, but I have never resided or worked in the State. That does not, I feel, entitle me to vote, even for the largely honorific office of president.

The Taoiseach says he has “a deep appreciation of the profound importance of connection”. The connection of a child with the country in which he or she has been born is rather important, too, is it not? – Is mise,

TERRY WALSH,

Cartagena,

Murcia,

Spain.