VICA is a London-based group campaigning for Irish citizens living abroad to be able to vote in all elections and referendums in Ireland.
For a country with such a significant history of emigration, it is odd that Ireland is in a small minority of countries that denies its citizens their ability to exercise political rights once they are no longer resident.
We live in a connected world and Irish emigrants maintain strong economic, political and emotional ties to home, and many hope to return to Ireland one day. Irish citizens living abroad, especially recent emigrants, have a stake in the future of Ireland.
They should not be excluded from decision-making, or from being represented, while they’re living outside the State. Political participation is an inherent aspect of citizenship. Irish people do not leave their citizenship behind when they board a plane to London, New York or Sydney.
There will be a referendum in Ireland within the next 15 months, to enable all Irish citizens abroad to vote in presidential elections.
It is important that this proposal gets a ‘YES’ vote.
The Convention on the Constitution in 2013 voted 78% in favour of extending the vote for presidential elections to citizens abroad.
The President is head of the nation. Ever since Mary Robinson lit a candle in the window of the Áras, the Irish President has represented something special to the Irish diaspora. Both President McAleese and President Higgins have continued that fine tradition of speaking directly to and including the Irish diaspora.
For VICA the upcoming referendum about the Presidential vote is an important first step towards achieving full voting rights and bringing Ireland in to line with over 130 other countries that do not deny their overseas citizens their voting rights.