Younger Irish voters favour diaspora votes

Younger Irish voters favour diaspora votes

National Youth Council of Ireland released the poll findings to coincide with this week’s second Global Irish Forum in Dublin

Irish polling company Red C, commissioned by the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI), says it found 66 per cent of Irish 18 to 29 year olds are in favour of extending voting rights to citizens abroad for Presidential elections.

The new figures were published in advance of this week’s second Global Civic Forum, which looks at the issues affecting the lives of the diaspora, due to take place on May 4th and 5th.

The NYCI called on Government to honour its promise to hold a referendum on the issue, by providing detail on the mechanisms required and setting a date for the referendum to take place during the lifetime of this administration.

“Ireland is out of step with many democracies in the world by disenfranchising its citizens to vote in home elections once they leave Ireland,” said Marie-Claire McAleer, head of research and policy at NYCI.

“The current situation means that an Irish citizen can only vote for a period of 18 months after they leave Ireland and only if they physically return to cast their ballot. This rule is not only undemocratic, it serves to deprive Irish emigrants of the right to have a say on the selection of their head of state.

“After decades of political inaction on the issue of extending voting rights for emigrants, NYCI is delighted that the Government have decided to hold a referendum on extending voting rights to Irish citizens living outside the state in presidential elections.”

She called the decision to hold a referendum as a ‘significant and welcome development’ from a youth perspective.

“There is a moral and political imperative to address the current anomaly that exists by allowing our citizens the right to vote for the Irish President, regardless of where they live in the world. Extending the franchise in this regard would serve to strengthen our democracy and recognize the value Ireland places on her diaspora,” Ms McAleer added.

The NYCI is calling on Government to follow through on its commitment to hold a referendum on the issue by providing the detail on the proposed wording, the eligibility criteria, the mechanisms required and setting a date for the referendum to take place during the lifetime of this administration.

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