Jude Collins

Thursday, 3 January 2013

A can of worms? Leave it to Leo

Leo Varadkar , the south’s Transport Minister, is generally regarded as seriously right-wing. So I’m not sure what he was thinking of when he told journalists that he was in favour of votes for the Irish diaspora. “I like the idea of the President being the President of the Irish people and the Irish nation. We would like to extend voting rights to all Irish citizens”. 

He then added two highly significant points.  “I would favour it for people who are only out of the country for a short period of time - maybe say they’re gone a year or two, But I don’t think people who are gone a long time should vote for our parliament.”

What nice Leo is saying is that the diaspora vote would have to have boundaries - you couldn’t have some paddy who’d arrived in New York circa 1957 lining up to vote in an Irish election in a couple of years' time. The second and more significant point here is that he’s talking not just about the presidential election but elections to the Dail.

“So what?” you may say. “I’m not part of the diaspora - I live in the north”. Yes indeed. And can you see a circumstance where emigrants are allowed to vote for the President while people from the north are not? Unsustainable - totally unsustainable. Not even a Sindo columnist could twist that one into something credible. And supposing those of us in the north had a vote in the last Presidential election: you don’t think that would have affected the outcome? For a start, all those people in the north who vote Sinn Féin would almost certainly have thrown their weight behind Martin McGuinness. That’s a lot of votes and a lot of weights.

Then there’s the unionist factor (which Leo diplomatically doesn’t mention either). Had people in the north been allowed to vote for who should be President of Ireland, would they have abstained with disdain? Or would they have voted to make sure that McGuinness didn’t get the job? Alternatively, would they have voted so he did get the job, since it’s generally acknowledged that McGuinness is one of the most popular politicians in the north, and not just among republicans. 

And finally, supposing Leo’s dream became reality and “all Irish citizens” had a vote for Dail Eireann. Would that swell or diminish the ranks of Sinn Féin in the Dail? I think you know the answer to that one. But even more intriguing is, what would unionists do? At first glance, you might think they’d declare they didn’t vote in foreign elections and ignore the whole thing. Maybe better take a second glance. The kind of government south of the border has always been important for the north, whether it’s tourism or ‘terrorism’ that’s at issue. There’d be several good reasons why unionists should cast a vote that would make the complexion of the Dail closer to their taste. On the other hand, that would mean unionists when they voted for the Dail were part of an all-Ireland electorate. Which would leave one big question:  whither Stormont?

I wonder if Leo knows how big is the an of worms he’s just unzipped? You know, the odd thing is I think he does. 


  1. I remember having a few conversations with work colleagues of various shades of unionism/loyalism at the time of McGuinness's Presidential bid, in all honesty, I was a little shocked and quite surprised by the noises I was hearing in relation to McGuinness and I suppose the interest they were taking in general - some sort of weird ownership over him and a weird unspoken wish for a fellow Northerner to succeed.

    Hard to quantify really but we live in very interesting times, that is for certain!

  2. The thing is Jude does Leo regard the 26 counties as "the country" in which case we would be living outside it (in a partionist view) and still unable to vote.

    1. Think that was one of the points he was making there chief...

  3. Poster girl for the free state establishment...


    The sooner SF articulate and express to people what their vision of a united Ireland might look like the better -because you can't blame people for not wanting to be part of the current reality, as articulated by this D4 brat...

  4. The players would begin as members of the SCA, going to
    Phoenix for the Estrella War. A murder mystery game is
    a fun way to pass the time during the twenties theme party.

    You Divide everyone at the party into two groups, or tribes.

    my blog post: Craigs List

  5. Narrow blood vessels lie alongside the intestines
    of the earthworm and they absorb the nutrients from
    the alimentary canal feeding the rest of the body.
    Below are listed a few popular pubs where one can chill in
    Mumbai. The decline of the East side blues scene
    was disheartening, but, it also gave rise to the need for
    a fresh start, which came in the form of the next blues-only venue,
    Antone's, founded by the late Clifford Antone, during the summer of 1975.

    My weblog: free pub quiz and answers :: ::