Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

There's no point to northerners voting in south

THE proposal to give northern nationalists and unionists the right to vote for the Irish president is daft. The Irish president is the head of state and most important person in the Irish constitution.

Unionists are not likely to vote, or run, in such elections and will not be interested in what can only be a republican agenda (as they would see it).

The Irish president has no authority, or jurisdiction, beyond the 26 counties and it will be of no benefit for them to vote.

In fact, should anybody from the Northern Ireland counties communicate with the office of the president on any matter, they would undoubtedly be told that they have no role, or jurisdiction, in Northern Ireland.

The expats mentioned by the Irish constitutional convention are interesting, as they denote, or imply, someone who was once part of the nation, who no longer is, and has secured voting rights in another jurisdiction.

The argument has been raised again and again that expats who have left the Republic and have permanently emigrated, or been gone for decades, should not be allowed to vote in elections here when they have secured voting rights elsewhere, including Northern Ireland.

The Stormont Assembly is a devolved institution within the United Kingdom. It is not part of the Republic. What is the point in securing cross-border voting arrangements that will be meaningless on the ground?

MAURICE FITZGERALD

Shanbally, Co Cork

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