VotingRights.ie to launch call for enfranchisement of overseas citizens

1.73 million Irish citizens denied opportunity to vote by outdated election laws

VotingRights.ie, a global coalition of Irish emigrant groups and citizens seeking to secure the vote for the 1.73 million Irish citizens now living overseas, will release a policy paper and reform agenda on emigrant voting next week. The group will hold a press conference to launch the paper at Buswell’s Hotel (Georgian Suite) at 27 Molesworth Street, Dublin on Wednesday, 3 May at 3 pm.
The paper highlights the fact that about one third of all Irish citizens are currently disenfranchised. Senator Billy Lawless, one of the three co-founders of VotingRights.ie. stated “We appreciate the fact that the Taoiseach, the Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan and the Minister of the Diaspora Joe McHugh T.D. have made a consistent effort to engage Irish emigrants and the greater Diaspora. It’s greatly appreciated.” Lawless went on “but we think the pace of change is too slow.”
VotingRights.ie is releasing its ten-point reform agenda on the eve of the second Global Irish Civic Forum organized by the Dept. of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The Forum is scheduled to take up the government’s Options paper released in March in light of the decision by the Taoiseach and the Cabinet to approve a national referendum on whether Irish citizens residing outside the state can vote in future Presidential elections.
Noreen Bowden, the policy director for VotingRights.ie stated, “Ireland’s current voting regulations do not meet current E.U. or global norms. We’re up to around 130 nations that now allow emigrants to vote. Ireland, unfortunately, is not one of them. Citizens abroad are now treated like second-class citizens, with no ability to exercise their most fundamental right as citizens because Ireland lacks an absentee ballot process.” Bowden continued, “Ireland has a choice to either expand the franchise and meet the norms of a 21st-century democracy or continue to accept a status quo that over time will make the nation less democratic, less equal and more insular.”
VotingRights.ie believes that Ireland now has a third historic opportunity to expand the franchise if the nation will adopt the proposed reform agenda. Speakers at the press conference will include,
• Senator Billy Lawless, Independent Senator for the Global Irish and co-founder of VotingRights.ie
• Senator Michael McDowell, former Attorney General (1999 to 2002) Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform( 2002- 2007) and Tánaiste (2006- 2007)
• Senator Catherine Noone, Deputy Leader of the Seanad and Fine Gael Seanad Spokesperson on Children.
• Senator Mark Daly, Fianna Fail Seanad Deputy Group Leader and Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs
• Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile, Sinn Féin, former Lord Mayor of Belfast
Link to Options paper: http://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/voting_at_presidential_elections_by_citizens_resident_outside_the_state_-_options_paper_-_22_march_2017.pdf