Belfast Telegraph

'Major anomaly' in president poll

Martin McGuinness's presidential bid has again highlighted the "major anomaly" that people living north of the border cannot vote in the election, his Sinn Fein colleagues said.

Assembly members from the republican party launched a campaign in Belfast for voting rights to be extended across the island.

Sporting Gaelic football shirts of the six northern counties, the Sinn Fein MLAs said it was nonsensical that Mr McGuinness could become president yet could not vote.

West Tyrone Assembly member Barry McElduff acknowledged there would not be time for an amendment to the Irish constitution before October's election but said action was needed before the next poll.

"A lot of people have been contacting me and us expressing their resentment, their disgust at not being able to exercise their vote in an Irish presidential election," he said.

"People from all over the north are saying for example that Latvians can vote here in Belfast in Latvian home elections and there's this major anomaly, this major wrong, that citizens in the north of Ireland, Irish citizens, defined under the Good Friday Agreement as such, cannot vote in an Irish presidential election.

"You are allowed to stand as a candidate, you are allowed to become president but you can't vote, so it's a major anomaly that needs to be corrected."

Mr McElduff, who was joined on the steps of Parliament Buildings by fellow Sinn Fein MLAs Cathal Boylan, Alex Maskey, Caitriona Ruane, Sean Lynch and Martina Anderson, said he wanted support from other political parties.

"We want this to be a broad-based campaign," he said.

"This doesn't just affect Sinn Fein supporters alone. Throughout the north there are very many people who want to vote in an Irish presidential election and we would like there to be broader ownership of the campaign for voting rights in respect of an Irish presidential election."

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