Poll Shows Young People Support Votes For Irish Citizens Abroad In Presidential Elections

  • New figures published in advance of Government’s Global Civic Forum, taking place May 4th and 5th
  • Youth Council calls on Government to follow through on commitment to hold referendum on the issue
  • “Ireland out of step with many democracies in the world”

A new Red C poll commissioned by the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) – which represents organisations working with over 380,000 young people – has found that the extension of voting rights to citizens abroad for Presidential elections is supported by roughly two thirds of 18 to 29 year olds. These new figures have been published today (02.05.17) in advance of the Government’s second Global Civic Forum due to take place on May 4th and 5th. The forum will look at issues affecting the lives of the diaspora, including extending the franchise for Irish citizens living abroad in Irish Presidential Elections.

The NYCI is calling on Government to follow through on its commitment to hold a referendum on the issue, by providing detail on the mechanisms required and setting a date for the referendum to take place during the lifetime of this administration.

Commenting on the figures Marie-Claire McAleer, head of research and policy at NYCI said: “Ireland is out of step with many democracies in the world by disenfranchising its citizens to vote in home elections once they leave Ireland. The current situation means that an Irish citizen can only vote for a period of 18 months after they leave Ireland and only if they physically return to cast their ballot. This rule is not only undemocratic, it serves to deprive Irish emigrants of the right to have a say on the selection of their head of state.

 “After decades of political inaction on the issue of extending voting rights for emigrants, NYCI is delighted that the Government have decided to hold a referendum on extending voting rights to Irish citizens living outside the state in presidential elections.

“From a youth perspective, this is a significant and welcome development. There is strong support amongst young people to extend the vote in presidential elections to include Irish citizens living outside the state. In the most recent Red C poll commissioned by the NYCI, of young adults aged 18 to 29, 66% of respondents stated that they support the Government’s proposal to extend the franchise in presidential elections to include Irish citizens living abroad and in Northern Ireland.

“There is a moral and political imperative to address the current anomaly that exists by allowing our citizens the right to vote for the Irish President, regardless of where they live in the world. Extending the franchise in this regard would serve to strengthen our democracy and recognize the value Ireland places on her diaspora,” concluded Ms McAleer.

The NYCI is calling on Government to follow through on its commitment to hold a referendum on the issue by providing the detail on the proposed wording, the eligibility criteria, the mechanisms required and setting a date for the referendum to take place during the lifetime of this administration.

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