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    Petition campaign launched for emigrant voting rights

    By Noreen Bowden | January 28, 2010

    A new political party calling itself “Amhran Nua” has launched an online petition to grant voting rights to emigrants. I don’t know much about this group, but its vision statement calls for a “country based on transparency and accountability, equality, growth and prosperity, peace and freedom, for our future and the future that we hand to our children.”

    Interestingly, it’s also pledging to work with the diaspora specifically to prevent further emigration:

    All too often, our best and brightest have left our shores for far off lands, separated from their families and homes. Our aim is to work with those who have left and those who are here to prevent more of this sorrowful loss, as president John F Kennedy said to the Dáíl in 1963, “If this nation had achieved its present political and economic stature a century or so ago, my great grandfather might never have left New Ross, and I might, if fortunate, be sitting down there with you.”

    The notion that Ireland’s diaspora may have a role to play in Ireland’s future is evidently becoming a more commonly expressed thought in various sectors of Irish society.

    So it’s only natural, I guess, that this idea is leading to an increasing number of calls for votes for the Irish abroad. This petition is the latest in a small flowering of efforts aimed at opening up the Irish political system to voices from abroad.

    The petition calls for:

    We propose to implement full emigrant voting rights for Irish emigrants, for anyone holding an Irish passport and who was born in Ireland, and spent at least sixteen years ordinarily resident in the country. This could be done in a very straightforward manner, in a similar fashion to online banking done by Irish banks.

    Upon confirmation of identification and issuance of codes, emigrants could then vote via the internet in national elections and referendums, registered in their last Irish constituency, (if its good enough to secure something like bank account numbers and transactions, it should do quite well for voting).

    Is Ireland ready for this campaign? It will be interesting to see what kind of support they will get for this petition – but already it’s heartening to see that the level of debate on the issue is being raised. I’ve read many of the Dail debates of the past on this issue, and they were marked by a distinct lack of information about how common emigrant voting really is. This group has seized on the fact that emigrant voting is the norm in the developed world, that there are 115 countries in the world that have already figured it out, and that there are creative ways of ensuring that the emigrant vote is enacted fairly (as outlined in my factsheet on emigrant voting rights).

    I have written a lot about emigrant voting rights around the world, and one of my goals has always been to ensure that if there was going to be a debate on this issue in the future, it should be done on a factual basis, unlike how it has sometimes been conducted in the past. I must say I feel some level of satisfaction that we are getting closer to achieving this.

    See Amhran Nua’s website for more information and the petition.

    Topics: Latest News | 1 Comment »

    One Response to “Petition campaign launched for emigrant voting rights”

    1. Charter for a New Ireland revisions Ireland as global nation | – about Irish emigration and the diaspora Says:
      January 28th, 2010 at 7:06 pm

      […] Petition campaign launched for emigrant voting rights […]