Updated 1.3opm 27 July
THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, along with three referenda, will be held on a Thursday in October, it’s been confirmed today.
Environment Minister Phil Hogan said that Thursday, 27 October, was chosen instead of a Friday because it leads into a bank holiday weekend, reports Breaking News. The subject of one referendum remains unknown, while the issue of judicial pay and a vote on reversing the Abbeylara judgement will also be included.
Both Labour and Fine Gael have previously criticised suggestions to hold votes on a Thursday, particularly with reference to the 2007 General Election.
In April 2007 Labour Youth condemned a decision by the Taoiseach to hold the vote on a Thursday, saying it would disenfranchise young people who would be unable to travel to the constituencies they were registered to vote in.
Kildare South Fine Gael candidate Richard Daly echoed that sentiment at the time, calling the decision ‘a disgrace’, while Fine Gael MEP Simon Coveney called for elections to be held on a Saturday. Another Fine Gael candidate Senator John McHugh said he too would be asking the Taoiseach at the time to hold future polling days at the weekend.
Today Ógra Fianna Fáil has criticised the decision to hold the election on a Thursday, calling it “hypocritical and a cause of great concern to hundreds of thousands of students”. Spokesperson Eamon Quinlan said:
Both Fine Gael and Labour have been heavily critical in the past when an election was scheduled for a Thursday. This is yet another example of a complete u-turn by the coalition parties.
Young Fine Gael has described the decision to hold the presidential election on at Thursday as “bizarre”. In a statement, Eric Keane has called on the government to hold the election on a Friday. He said:
Election after election, year after year, both Fine Gael and Labour have consistently excoriated the previous government when they held elections on a Friday, never mind a Thursday. This denies young people who will be in college and others who work away from home the chance to have their say in who will be our next President.
Meanwhile The Line Ireland has been asking people on the streets of Ireland if they believe the role of the president is still relevant in 2011: