VICA CALLS ON GOVERNMENT TO EXTEND THE VOTE TO IRISH LIVING ABROAD
Remarks come ahead of a Dáil debate this Friday
The Votes for Irish Citizens Abroad (VICA)1 campaign group is calling on the Government to accept the principle that Irish citizens living abroad should be allowed to vote in general elections, ahead of a Dáil debate on the issue this Friday, 23rd October.
Speaking ahead of the Dáil debate Professor Mary Hickman, Chair of VICA, said:
VICA welcomes the Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Union Affairs’ recommendation that the Government should accept the principle that voting rights should be extended to Irish citizens who live abroad.
We saw during the marriage equality referendum the appetite, both at home and overseas, for Irish people living abroad to be given the vote.
Professor Hickman continued:
Ireland is out of step with the majority of democratic countries, including our European Union peers, in disenfranchising citizens once they move abroad.2
The European Commission has expressed concern that the status quo in Ireland undermines the concept of freedom of movement within the European Union.3
Furthermore, the OECD has recently said that there is significant room for improvement in the political representation of Irish emigrants.4
In 2013 the Constitutional Convention endorsed the principle that Irish people, regardless of where they live, should be able to vote in Presidential elections. Two years on, the Government has yet to even issue a response to that report.5
VICA is calling on the all political parties to accept the principle that Irish citizens living abroad should be allowed to vote, and to provide a timetable and a blueprint for addressing this democratic deficit as a matter of urgency.
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Notes for editors:
1 Votes for Irish Citizens Abroad (VICA) is a London-based group of Irish activists campaigning for Irish citizens living abroad to be given the right to vote in general elections, Presidential elections and referendums.
VICA believes that the right to vote in general elections should be granted to all first generation Irish citizens, regardless of where they live (i.e., those who were born in Ireland).
VICA proposes this should be managed by a system of reserved constituencies in order not to “swamp” the votes of citizens resident in Ireland, and to ensure meaningful representation of emigrants. Similar systems are used by France and Italy.
Further information can be found at www.vica.ie.
4 OECD Economic Surveys: Ireland 2015, September 2015.
5 Fifth Report of the Convention on the Constitution, November 2013. The Government committed to responding to the Constitutional Convention’s reports within four months of their being published.