Jude Collins

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.


  1. I'm not so sure that no other party is advocating for the right of the North's citizens to vote. Fianna Fail's manifesto clearly states that they support the right of "all citizens" to vote in presidential elections.

    As to whether they realise what they're promising or not, that's another story. They include the clause "including emigrants", but obviously all citizens includes a lot of more than residents and emigrants.

  2. Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny managed to avoid Vincent Browne last night - but he was subjected to a tirade of abuse at a town hall meeting.
    Mr Kenny said he couldn't attend last night's TV3 debate because he had a rally in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim, but chaos erupted when an unemployed man shouted at Mr Kenny for five minutes.
    Bobby Channels (33), a former road sweeper from Finglas in Dublin, asked Mr Kenny how he would create jobs.
    But he told Mr Kenny he could "smell it" off him as the FG leader replied.
    "That was a very vague answer you gave me," Mr Channels said. "I told you I was a road sweeper. You weren't listening to it. I can smell it, I can smell it from here, Enda."
    Mr Channels also used extremely strong language and criticised Mr Kenny for not debating Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin -- who he described as "a watery rat" -- and Labour's Eamon Gilmore, who he said was a "waffler".
    He also claimed Mr Kenny was "cardboard" and said he had taken everyone for fools.
    And Mr Kenny's handlers tried to suggest he was a brother of Sinn Fein TD Aengus O'Snodaigh -- a false claim.
    Mr Channels travelled to Leitrim for the event with his brother in law, FG party member Terry Ghusto, who took to the stage and apologised on behalf of Mr Channels.
    Mr Ghusto said Mr Channels had just lost his job; his sister had emigrated and his father was unwell. He told the crowd Mr Kenny would make a great Taoiseach.

  3. Thanks, Hoboroad. I heard it on RTÉ radio this morning - the ghost at the feast...