[Direct provision accommodation centre for asylum seekers in Lissywoolen, Athlone, Co. Westmeath]

There are approximately 4,360 asylum seekers living in direct provisions centres across Ireland. The adults among them are allowed to vote in the local elections.

However, election candidates are not allowed to canvass at the centres.

On this matter, Joan O’Connell writes on her blog:

“If politics is conceived as a zero-sum competition for power, then this step by a state agency can be regarded as the yet another exercise of power over an already almost totally disempowered group in Irish society. The near-total exclusion of asylum seekers from participating in the society where they live is highly questionable.
“By denying election candidates the opportunity to canvass the views of certain constituents, this “policy” impedes the opportunity for candidates to hear the views of asylum seekers and others – to hear their minds and voices. In turn, the “policy” hampers the ability of voters in direct provision centres to be fully informed about their rights and obligations, and to contribute to and influence the local politics – which by law they are entitled to do. If voices are silenced and bodies remain invisible, what does this mean for the ideas and leadership which shape Irish society?”

Joan O’Connell’s blog post, An interference with democratic process: The right to vote in Ireland, in full here



UCD law lecturer Dr Liam Thornton writes:

“Asylum seekers not even entitled to receive leaflets from political parties…”


50 thoughts on “Alternatively

  1. Bejayziz

    You need to be a citizen of the state to vote, same reason I cant vote in an American or Japanese election when in there countries…they’re not citizens, therefore they dont have any right to a vote.

    There are more pressing things to discuss and far larger injustices going on in the world than people that tried to enter a country illegally (and possibly with forged documents) getting a vote in a country theyre not a citizen of. I’d start with the current state of the so called “western” press/media which I’ve grown increasingly disillusioned with in recent years particularly with the current propaganda on the situation in the Ukraine

    1. Spartacus

      I find it fairly ironic that a citizen such as yourself displays such a bewildering degree of ignorance.

      1. Bejayziz

        Oh is this the part where someone that has a different opinion on a matter is branded “ignorant”

        1. Eod

          If you want to have a different opinion on facts then knock yourself out. What you said about citizens being entitled to vote is factually incorrect. Undermines your whole comment tbh.

          1. Bejayziz

            Fair enough, if it isn’t correct thanks for pointing it out, what is the law on it?

    2. Eod

      Did you not bother to read the piece? And as for ”people that tried to enter a country illegally (and possibly with forged documents) ”, bit of an assumption surely?

    3. Barry

      As asylum seekers/refugees who are waiting for decisions to be made on their applications, they are in this country lawfully. As residents here, they have the right to vote in Local Elections. But please, don’t let the facts get in the way of your diatribe.

          1. Mani

            If by ‘it’ you mean the compliment your mother pays me very time I service the vagina you wrecked on exit, then yes. I do take it.

    4. Parp

      Perhaps read the second line on the page.. might have saved you a few paragraphs of nonsense.

  2. Dave

    How are asylum seekers allowed to vote in local elections? Or are these people who have already been given asylum?

    1. click here

      Anyone from outside of the EU, who is residing in Ireland, can vote in local elections. Included in this are asylum seekers and human trafficking survivors.

        1. Spartacus

          Not quite that. “Have been ordinarily resident in the State on 1 September in the year preceding the coming into force of the Register.”

  3. Jock

    A simple solution would we to remove their right to vote. Why were they ever allowed vote in a country that they have no residency rights to?

    1. Mark Dennehy

      Because they’re living here, often for years because we can’t organise a proper refugee system for peanuts.

      Also, when the state starts removing people’s rights for the convenience of others like you’re suggesting, it’s time to flee the state and become a refugee elsewhere, because the odds are that things are about to go from bad to really really really awful.

  4. PK

    I doubt there are any Irish, UK or EU citizens living there. therefore why would you canvas there?

    maybe Joan is casing the joint. just saying

  5. nige

    You only have to be resident in Ireland (legal or not) to be eligible to vote in local elections.

    1. Formerly known as

      So, can tourists vote? Can I ryanair (yes, I am using it as a verb) in on election day, vote, and ryanair out again?

      1. Spartacus

        “If you are an Irish citizen living abroad you cannot be entered on the Register of Electors. This means that you cannot vote in an election or referendum here in Ireland. (The only exception to this is in the case of Irish officials on duty abroad (and their spouses) who may register on the postal voters list). ”

        But you knew that, didn’t you?

  6. pissedasanewt

    Can we pass this rule so election candidates cannot canvas in my area.. or put up posters or any crap like that.

    The posters say very little of a candidate. A general booklet listing all the candidates in my area, prepared by an independent body. I’ll then flick through it as my leisure and be done with it. Not having stacks of crap build up inside my letter box every day.

    1. Mark Dennehy

      Ah here, next you’ll be looking for competent professionals running services well and without corruption. Where do you think you are, utopia?

    2. cluster

      F*** off elsewhere with your tiresome, self-defeating, faux-grown-up cynicism, Dennehy.

      I do like the idea of a general booklet, listing all candidates, prepared by an independent body. Not sure it is the sort of thing that the govt could or should do and also not sure that the population numbers involved are big enough to support a non-profit. Perhaps it could be crowd-sourced.

  7. Tucker Done

    There’s an important issue regarding the length of time and the conditions people are being held in these centres but it makes no sense for someone seeking asylum in a country to have a say in local politics

      1. Tucker Done

        How not so? I’m not an expert but the onus in this country seems to be on the asylum seeker to prove the veracity of the situation from which they’ve come. Until that is determined they are neither residents nor citizens. In terms of voting rights, they are in the same class as someone visiting the country for an extended period before deciding on whether to stay and become a resident. It makes no sense for either person to vote in a local election as they may or may or not be around for the consequences of that vote.

        1. cluster

          Allowing them a vote should hopefully provide some incentive not to de-humanise them altogether. Much in the same way that the fate of the poor was of little consequence prior to universal suffrage.

          That is what is frightening about these restrictions. Fine we’ll allow you have the vote, it seems to say, we have kept you here for years, But don’t expect us to alllow you to participate in local democracy in any sort of genuine fashion.

          The fact that so many people do not see what sorts of problems we are storing up for us with our current system is frightening.

        2. Barry

          They should be prohibited from voting because they might not be around for the consequences? By that logic anyone could be prohibited from voting.

          People emigrate. People die. People move house. People live and work in one constituency but remain registered to vote in another. It has never been a requirement that, in order to exercise your right to vote, you have to promise to remain in one place for the duration. Why should we arbitrarily apply that standard to asylum seekers but not to anyone else?

  8. Mort

    If anything they are protecting them from the lies and empty promises of the canvassers.

  9. chicken

    Also worth mentioning that you have to register to vote as well, and if I remember correctly this has to be done some time before the voting date.
    & surely if you register to vote & indeed wish to vote it is up to you to find out if certain parties/politicians are in line with your own views..

  10. Fine Gruel

    Punishing people for claiming refugee status by making examples of them is inhumane. Their cases should be dealt with swiftly one way or another. They are victims of circumstance. That’s not a crime.

    1. Kieran NYC


      This will be a future ‘national shame’ when we can all pretend to be shocked and had no idea what was going on.

  11. Alpha

    So! What is all this about? It makes no sense at all!
    According to Wikipedia ” A politician, political leader, or political figure (from Classical Greek πόλις, “polis”) is a person who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making. This includes people who hold decision-making .positions in government, and people who seek those positions, whether by means of election, inheritance, coup d’état, appointment, conquest, or other means”.

    Dear politicians! Thanks for remembering now those people living in an ‘open jail’ in Ireland, despite never having committed any crime, other than coming here seeking protection and asylum!
    The same system of government that not only created but maintains this horrific ‘concentration camp’ style’ accommodation, otherwise known as Direct Provision is now complaining about it? This is laughable!
    Now that politicians need votes, they just realized, that some people living in this country for more than a decade are not allowed to listen to their ‘sweet lies’and therefore, may not get some votes from them, because let’s face it, this is only what they need.

    Since 2000,these people have been living in limbo, a no-man’s land. Deprived of everything, denied their dignity as well as their basic human rights. But today, because you need some votes, you find it outrageous that you cannot get access to them!

    Where were you during the last 14 years, while those same people have been trying to talk to you, crying, grasping for some air to breathe in overcrowded accommodation, with 2 or 3 families living in one room.

    Have you ever been in the accommodation they are forced to call home, before this election campaign? If yes, did you like it? As politicians or citizens of this country, where you proud of what is happening inside these prisons ‘in your name’. If no, what have you done to change it? Or it is just another periodical problem for you, during your campaign?

    Whoever, in the Department of Justice, invented this new deprivation did very well! At least if any politician want to get votes from asylum seekers, they will know from now on, that you can only get votes from ‘free people’ . People with the privilege of having a front door which you can knock on. Hopefully you will make sure this despicable system of Direct Provision is dismantled before your next campaign.

    So for now dear politicians please keep walking! There is nothing new to see here! Your leaflets will not solve the anger, frustration, neglect, and exclusion of Direct Provision !!!

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