Press Release: On International Migrants Day Seanad Candidate Calls on Parties To Commit to Votes for Irish Abroad

Seanad Candidate Calls for Parties to Commit to Votes for Irish Overseas on International Migrant’s Day

Ahead of International Migrant’s Day (December 18) a prospective Seanad candidate has issued a challenge to political parties to commit to votes for the Irish abroad.

Barry Johnston, who is based in London and is running as an overseas candidate for the NUI Panel, said:

“Coming up to Christmas is a particularly poignant time for emigrants and their loved ones. It’s a fitting point to reflect on how the Irish State fulfils its obligations to its citizens abroad. We are failing in providing the most basic form of political representation to the hundreds of thousands of Irish displaced by the economic crisis, and the many generations before them.

“Nearly 130 other countries recognise the important contribution their overseas citizens make, and their right to have a say in shaping their home countries. It’s high time that Ireland made good on its claims to value its citizens abroad.”

Ahead of next year’s election, Mr Johnston called on parties to make a commitment to extend voting rights to the Irish overseas.

“One of the high points of the past year was seeing so many Irish coming home to vote in the marriage referendum, showing their appetite for making Ireland a more equal society. This isn’t something parties should be afraid of. They should encourage and promote it.

“It’s too late for 2016, but parties should make a commitment that Ireland will never again go into an election that excludes so many of its citizens. If elected, I will fight to hold the next government to account on this issue. ”

Mr Johnston has published a 5-point proposal for how Ireland’s overseas voting laws could be brought up to date:

  • Extend the current 18 month period in which emigrants can remain on the electoral register to a minimum of at least one electoral cycle and allow votes to be cast overseas (In the UK this period is 15 years).
  • Extend the right to vote in elections for the Dáil to all Irish citizens abroad who are first generation emigrants (that is, who were born in Ireland and left).
  • That should be managed by a system of reserved constituencies (as happens in 14 other countries) in order not to swamp the votes of resident citizens. These votes would not have a time limit.
  • That all citizens abroad (including those of Irish descent who have become citizens) should be able to exercise the right to vote for the President.
  • An Electoral Commission should be established in the first 100 days of the new government to begin this process.


For interviews please contact Barry Johnston on 00447938678384

Twitter: @B_CA_Johnston



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