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Dublin: 10 °C Monday 20 October, 2014

Constitutional Convention will recommend votes for Irish abroad

The convention will recommend to the Government that they should consider a referendum on extending voting rights in Presidential elections to Irish citizens living outside the state.

THE CONVENTION ON the Constitution will prepare a report for the Government recommending that Irish citizens living outside of the state should be able to vote in Presidential elections.

Following two days of debate, delegates voted in favour of the proposal and also voted to recommend that Irish citizens in Northern Ireland should have similar rights. The results were as follows:

Should citizens resident outside the State have the right to vote in Presidential elections?

  • Yes – 78 per cent
  • No – 21 per cent
  • Undecided -1 per cent

Should citizens resident in Northern Ireland have the right to vote in Presidential elections?

  • Yes – 73 per cent
  • No – 20 per cent
  • Undecided – 7 per cent

Delegates were also asked what kind of Irish citizens outside the island of Ireland should have the vote, on this issue they were more divided:

Which of these citizens living outside the island of Ireland should have the right to vote in Presidential elections?

  • All Irish citizens resident outside the island of Ireland – 36 per cent
  • Just citizens who have lived in Republic of Ireland    – 26 per cent
  • Just citizens who have lived in Republic of Ireland as adults and who have left for a period of time – 27 per cent
  • Undecided/No opinion – 11 per cent

Delegates also voted on what the defined time period mentioned above should be.

Over the course of the weekend the convention heard from academic and legal experts and were also addressed by Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness MLA who said Unionists should be included in the process.

A detailed report will now be compiled containing all of the evidence that was presented over the weekend before being given to the Government who will decide whether to hold a referendum on the matter.

The convention received submissions from Irish citizens in 64 countries as part of the process and convention chair Tom Arnold said that the importance of this issue was was “very clear throughout the entire process”.

“Following this outcome, we will now be lodging a formal report with Government notifying them of the recommendation of the Convention regarding Presidential voting rights for Irish citizens who are resident abroad, ” he said.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD said that the convention’s decision was a “significant step forward in the recognition of the equal rights of all”:

By doing so, they have also made a constructive contribution to the peace process. The issue of voting rights in presidential elections for citizens living in the north and those living abroad is an important one for all democrats, but particularly for citizens in the north.

Read: Convention on the Constitution to debate voting rights for Irish living abroad >

Poll: Should Irish citizens living abroad have a vote in Irish elections?

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