Wednesday, 9 February 2011
Voting? Not for the likes of you...
Are you Irish? And do you live abroad? Good news, then. This year, you’ll be able to cast your vote in the south’s general election. It’s something a lot of people have campaigned for, for a long time. Canadians, Australians, the British – 115 countries allow their emigrants to vote in their elections. So I’m sure you’re pleased to know that you can vote in the election later this month. Unfortunately, it’ll be an online vote and purely symbolic – it won’t count at all in terms of electing candidates.
That’s a pity, because it’s estimated that there are over three million Irish passport holders living abroad, 800,000 of whom are Irish-born. Many of those are reluctant emigrants, forced to leave Ireland in search of a job. That fact alone might be a strong incentive for them to be interested in the outcome of the election and to cast their vote, if they had one. Latest word is that Micheal Martin now says he favours extending the vote (a real vote, not an online pretendy vote) to Irish emigrants for the presidential election. Not as good as being allowed to vote in general elections but better than listening to Enda Kenny's reasons for his TV debate no-show.
You may have noticed that even less attention is being paid to another bloc of 800,000 Irish people with a vested interest in the south’s politics. The last I heard, none of the parties in the south, with the exception of Sinn Féin, was arguing that Irish people living north of the border should have a vote. So an Irish person in Brisbane may well get a vote before one living in Belfast. Do they not believe that Irish passport holders in the north would be interested in voting in a presidential election? Or are they happy to live with the absurdity that the person who’s been Irish president for the last fourteen years was unable to unable to vote for herself at any point?
Political reform? Sounds like a good idea. And like charity, it works best when it begins at home.