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If you're Irish and living in the UK, you have to travel home to vote now

Irish citizens’ rights to fly home to vote expires after 18 months of residency in the UK.

Image: Niall Carson

IRISH CITIZENS LIVING in the UK will need to fly home if they want to vote in the European elections, which are being held at the end of May this year.

Before Brexit, Irish citizens living in the UK could vote in the EU elections in their British constituencies – to vote in their Irish constituency they would have still needed to travel home. 

Because of Brexit, Irish citizens will now need to travel home to vote.

The ‘home-to-vote’ right also expires after 18 months of non-residency, after which Irish citizens living abroad can’t take part in any elections in Ireland.

However, post-Brexit Irish citizens will still retain the right to vote in Westminster and local elections the same way British citizens may vote in Dáil and county council elections but are excluded from constitutional referenda here.

Political commentators and analysts have speculated that if there is an extension of Article 50, that the UK could take part in the European elections. Ukip founder Nigel Farage has already said that he will run as a Brexit Party MEP candidate if this were to happen.

European Parliamentary elections Source: Niall Carson

If Article 50 is extended, the maximum date they could extend it to would be 1 July, as this is the time by which MEPs take their seats for the new European Parliament term.

The European Parliament is encouraging citizens in its 27 remaining EU member states to get involved in its elections and increase voter participation in the wake of Brexit.

In the 2014 European elections, 52.4% of the Irish electorate voted, compared with the EU average of 42.6%. Just 21.4% of young Irish electorate voted however, which is lower than the EU average of 27.8%. 

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, the Department of Housing, Government and Local Elections said that every Irish adult citizen resident in an EU state and registered to vote is entitled to vote in the European Parliament elections in Ireland.

Irish citizens living in an EU can also vote in the European elections in that country; but cannot vote in more than one constituency or country.

“In general, Irish citizens resident outside the State do not have an entitlement to vote in the European Parliament elections held in Ireland.”

The Department of Housing and Local Government has said that while the Department would encourage people to vote in the European elections, “no specific campaign proposals are envisaged”.

The Department has an annual voter registration week in November when people are encouraged to check the register to ensure that they can vote in all elections for which they are eligible, it said in a statement.

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