The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) and VotingRights.ie are partnering to campaign for a vote for Irish citizens abroad and are calling for a referendum in time for the next Presidential election.
USI are the leading partners on the new campaign in Ireland after the recent constitutional convention found that 78% of those surveyed were in favour of the question “Should citizens resident outside the State have the right to vote in Presidential elections?”
USI and VotingRights.ie believe in modernising the absentee ballot process, and those Irish citizens abroad and Irish groups abroad should have representation on a newly established Electoral commission.
USI believes that by giving Irish citizens abroad a vote it will be a step forward for Irish citizens in terms of international equality, and appropriate Irish representation both at home and abroad.
“Campaigns led by young people such as the #HomeToVote and the#GetTheBoat2Vote campaigns during the marriage equality referendum last year showed that the efforts of Irish citizens abroad to be involved in shaping their country is real," explained USI President Kevin Donoghue.
“We believe that many Irish citizens have left their home, for whatever reason, and many of those who left have the desire to play a significant role in their native state,” said USI Deputy President, Annie Hoey.
“Many Irish citizens may wish to return home to a country they had an active role in shaping through their democratic right by voting,” she added.
Noreen Bowden, one of the co-founders of VotingRights.ie, stated that she was "delighted" to be joining up with USI in campaigning to secure voting rights for the one-in-six Irish born citizens now living abroad.
"It’s important that young people be fully informed of the current situation and know that if they leave the country it means they will be losing their votes as well. Ireland is at the bottom of the E.U. tables when it comes to protecting the right of its overseas citizens to vote. Indeed, over 125 nations protect the right of their citizens living overseas to vote, but not Ireland," she explained.
"Irish citizens, like emigrants of every other country, are affected by policy decisions made at home. These policy decisions can affect whether there will be jobs for emigrants who want to return, for example. They can also affect their access to education or support for job seeking when they return.
And while they are away, they could be affected by matters such as emigrant support or consular protection if they run into difficulties. This is not a sentimental matter- it’s a matter of citizens of a nation being allowed a say in their futures,” she concluded.