Belfast Telegraph

SDLP call for all Irish citizens to be given vote in presidential election

By Gareth Cross

SDLP representatives have come together ahead of this week's Irish presidential election to call for voting rights to be extended to all Irish citizens.

In a series of posts on social media with the hashtags #OurVoteOurPresident and #Aras18 members posted photos with their Irish passports and called for equal voting rights.

People in Northern Ireland cannot currently vote in the Irish presidential election.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said that every Irish voice should have a say in the election of the President.

“The voice of An Uachtaran speaks for far more than the state, it is the voice of the Irish people," the Foyle MLA said.

"It is fitting that Irish voices from across the world, whether they’re in Boston or Belfast, Dublin or Dubai, should have an equal stake in who holds that office."

SDLP MLA for Mid Ulster, Patsy McGlone said that unionists should not feel threatened by the campaign for voting rights.

“This is not an attempt to undermine the right of unionists on this island to identify themselves as British. It is simply about providing citizens in the North of Ireland with the democratic right to vote for the President of Ireland alongside citizens in the rest of the country," he said.

Irish citizens living outside the Republic of Ireland cannot currently vote in Presidential elections. They lose their right to vote after living outside the country for 18 months.

Anyone wishing to vote who lives overseas must travel back to their home constituency to cast their ballot in person.

A referendum on extending voting rights in Irish presidential elections to Irish citizens living overseas is planned for May 24 2019.

Work is still progressing on the bill and it has not been decided if the referendum will apply to all Irish citizens living abroad or limit it to those who hold an Irish passport.

On Friday incumbent Michael D. Higgins will battle independents Peter Casey, Gavin Duffy, Joan Freeman, Sean Gallagher and Sinn Fein's Liadh Ni Riada to be named the next President of Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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