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Why is the government trying to push emigrants even further away?

The opinions of thousands of young, educated Irish emigrants are not worth considering – or so the government seems to think.

LAST SATURDAY NIGHT a group of friends met up for dinner in Sydney. Half of us were Irish and half of us were English.

Those who were from the UK actively and passionately discussed at length the upcoming UK general elections. They debated the issues they regarded as important and arguments flew around the table as to whom they felt would be the best person to assume the role of the next Prime Minister. They concluded the discussion by confirming with each other how and when they could register their vote.

Developing a greater understanding of how the political system works

Next up for discussion were the upcoming Australian state elections, which a number of us now have the right to vote in. Praise was attributed to the high number of television addresses that appear here which subsequently generate coversation and discussion among family and friends.

In addition to this, we applauded the fact that in the run-up to the elections free tours of the New South Wales Parliament were taking place so that people could develop a greater understanding of how the political system works and to increase the voters’ sense of inclusion in the running of their state.

Finally, it was time to talk about the upcoming same sex marriage referendum in Ireland. However, it was a very short-lived discussion. Knowing that your opinion is irrelevant because your government does not allow you to exercise your democratic right to vote, there seems no point in discussing it further.

What we think doesn’t seem to matter

The fun of engaging in political discourse is often the fact that you think you can give people some real food for thought, and vice versa. Often these debates can influence our final decision at the ballot box which makes them feel so relevant and worthwhile.

For us out here, what does it matter? Whether we have strong set opinions on the subject or whether this is a topic we had never considered much before but would like to make an informed decision and participate, it is irrelevant. The government doesn’t care what we think. The opinions of thousands of young, educated Irish emigrants are not worth considering, apparently.

Most people leave Ireland full of love and pride for their country. However the situation is slightly like being a being a budding soccer player. You are desperate to play for the team you have grown up supporting all of your life, but they keep leaving you on the subs bench looking in. Around you, you see other clubs making sure that all of their players get a chance to play.

Then, one day, another team invites you to join them. You would have never considered this as an option before but they can offer you things the other club can’t and, before too long, your loyalty and everything you had to offer the original club is slowly shifting to the one that actually seems to want you.

Terry Murphy is a television researcher who has recently moved to Sydney, having previously lived in London for two and a half years. You can follow her on Twitter @terrymurphy11

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