Louth County Council to hold Voter Registration Clinics – Ó Murchú

Sinn Féin general election candidate Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú has encouraged people to check if they are registered to vote in the upcoming election on 8th February.

Councillor Ó Murchú said;

“I welcome the fact that Louth County Council will host registration clinics at County Hall, Dundalk and Fair Street, Drogheda this coming Saturday 18th January from 10.00am – 4.00pm.

“People can attend and check to see if they are on the voter register.  If they are not they can complete the necessary paperwork there and then.

“Anyone who wishes to get on the register must bring a standard photo ID and proof of address to the clinic on the day.

“Alternatively people can visit www.checktheregister.ie to check if they are included.

“If they are not listed on this website, people should contact Louth County Council on 1890 202303 or register@louthcoco.ie to check if they are on the supplementary register.

“If this is not the case people can complete form RFA2 which is available on www.louthcoco.ie website and return it to Louth County Council by 5pm on Wednesday 22nd January.” 

Government must publish Bill to allow for referendum on Presidential Voting rights – Adams

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has called on the Taoiseach to honour his commitment to publish the Bill by the end of the month to allow for a referendum in October/November to extend the franchise to elect the President.

Writing in his weekly Blog Gerry Adams said:

“In February An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he wanted to hold the Presidential referendum in October. His proposal was that all citizens, wherever they live in the world, “will be entitled to register to vote for the next President.” It will be a postal ballot for those not living in the state and it would not be linked to a passport because there are citizens who do not have passports. He said: “As a result it will be linked to citizenship”.

Agreeing the date and passing the legislation is only one part of the battle ahead. Holding the referendum is important. Winning the referendum is essential.

The arguments against a referendum and for a NO vote include the claim that the current electorate would be swamped by the diaspora and voters from the North. Of over 120 countries around the world who allow their overseas citizens to vote in elections none has ever raised a concern about this aspect of it. On the contrary the evidence suggests that the relatively small number of citizens abroad who do vote in elections generally follow the pattern of those living within the state.

Another argument heard is a variation on the slogan from the American Revolution’s ‘no taxation without representation’. In this instance it has become ‘no representation without taxation.’ In short if you don’t pay taxes you shouldn’t be allowed to vote. This is a deeply flawed position which if followed through logically would mean that pensioners, citizens on low incomes, parents who stay at home with their children, citizens with a disability, in fact anyone who doesn’t pay taxes for any reason should not have the right to vote.

The Office of the President and the role of the Presidency in the day to day life of the Irish nation is hugely symbolic and important. A successful referendum campaign which actively seeks to encourage those who are unionist to vote for the President would set a powerful example of the kind of shared, fair and equality based society we all want to build on our island.

Finally, in the past, especially around the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement, the role of the diaspora was very important.

One hundred years ago women were denied the vote. Fifty years ago citizens in the North were denied a vote. They are still denied this vote. If former President Mary McAleese had stayed in Ardoyne she could not have voted for herself when she stood in the Presidential election. Martin McGuinness had no vote when he stood. We can now change this. Let’s do it”.

Adams Presidential Voting Bill clears latest hurdle

Sinn Féin President and Louth TD Gerry Adams has welcomed this morning’s cross party support from the Joint Committee on Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government for his Bill which seeks to extend the franchise in Presidential elections to citizens in the North and in the diaspora.

The Bill which is co-sponsored by Seán Crowe TD would also lower the voting age in Presidential elections to 16.

The Bill is entitled: Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Presidential Voting) Bill 2014

Following this morning’s Committee meeting Teachta Adams said:

“I want to welcome the very positive response from the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government which this morning discussed the Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Presidential Voting) Bill 2014.

I believe this Bill is an essential part of the modernisation of the island of Ireland. There was cross party support for the proposed legislation and a consensus opinion expressed by Committee members that this is an issue that needs to be progressed speedily.

The Bill was up for scrutiny as part of the legislative process. It has already passed second stage and will now go through its pre-legislative stage before returning to the Dáil.

Sinn Féin has long campaigned for Presidential voting rights to be extended to citizens in the north and in the Diaspora, and for citizens of the north to have representation in both the Dáil and the Seanad.

In September 2013 the Constitutional Convention a clear majority of members favoured a change to the Constitution to give citizens resident outside the State and including the citizens in the North the right to vote in Presidential elections.

The purpose of this Bill is to give effect to those recommendations and to allow for the Oireachtas to legislate for the provision of voting rights for citizens in Presidential elections without restrictions on residency and to lower the voting age to 16.

The government have belatedly begun to move on this matter. The announcement in March by the Taoiseach in the USA that there would be a referendum was welcome. Minister Coveney’s consultation process on how this will work in practice is also to be welcomed. This Bill does not affect any of that.

It is supplementary to that process, as any legislative mechanisms that arise from the Minister’s consultation process will still need to be underpinned in the Constitution. This Bill will facilitate this.

Nineteen years ago, the Good Friday Agreement enshrined in law the rights and entitlements of Irish citizens across all of Ireland’s thirty-two counties. It did not seek to give partial citizenship or, indeed, second-class citizenship to the Irish citizens in the north; it gave full Irish citizenship as a birth right.

That was endorsed by the people, north and south, who recognised that the Irish nation is more than the Irish State.

There is no reason, in my opinion, for any further unnecessary delay in extending to all citizens the right to vote for their President”.

Notes

·        The proposed new text of Article 12.2.2° of the Constitution, as outlined in the Schedule to the Bill, shall allow for legislation to be enacted that would afford citizens, without disqualification due to residency, the right to vote in Presidential elections.

·        It would also allow for citizens who have reached the age of sixteen years to vote in Presidential elections.

·        More than 120 other states have legislated to allow their citizens abroad to cast their votes in elections at home.

·        The second element to this Bill is the extension of the electoral franchise to include citizens who have reached the age of 16 years.

·        In Scotland 75% of 16 and 17 year olds cast their vote when afforded the opportunity.

·        The voting age in Norwegian local elections was lowered to 16 years in 2011 as a trial in 21 municipalities. Some 58% of 16 and 17 year olds cast their vote.

·        In 2007, Austria lowered its legal voting age in all elections.