What Now For The ‘Home To Vote’ Voters?



The queue to get into Ireland at Dublin Airport on the eve of the same sex marriage referendum last week

You’ll recall the Irish citizens living abroad who returned to vote in the same sex marriage referendum last Friday.

Further to this, Morning Ireland returned to the campaign by We’re Coming Back which advocates voting rights for Irish citizens living abroad.

Conor O’Neill, of We’re Coming Back, spoke on the show and said: “I think all the politicians who lauded their efforts [the people who returned to vote last Friday] they should take that attitude to Dáil Éireann  and they should legislate so it doesn’t have to happen in the future.

Jimmy Deenihan, minister of state with responsibility for Diaspora Affairs, then spoke to host Cathal MacCoille about the issue.

Cathal MacCoille: “Where exactly, because this has been considered, a decision promised and then a decision delayed. So where exactly is this in terms of, in Government terms?”

Jimmy Deenihan: “Well, first of all, thank you Cathal for having me on this morning. I think this is a very important issue and, certainly, I have been travelling around the world for the last year and it comes up again and again and also there was a review of diaspora policy, following the Global Economic Forum in November of 2013. And 130 submissions were received. And, in many of those submissions, the strong case was made to have votes in Presidential elections, especially, and as a result of that the Government asked the Constitutional Convention to consider…”

Cathal MacCoille: “We know this, that was 2013, what I’m asking is where are we at now? Is anyone in Government considering this? What’s going to emerge?”

Deenhian: “Of course, yeah but they voted 78% that there would be votes in Presidential election, they didn’t say, I suppose where or how they would vote or who would vote. So it was considered by Cabinet and Cabinet decided that there would have to be further issues clarified. So the Cabinet asked the Minister for the Environment, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and myself to have a look at some of the logistics involved, policy matters, practical matters and, at this moment of time, that engagement has taken place. Our officials are considering the many challenges. But, it’s for the Presidential election – that was what was recommended by the Constitutional Convention – so the next Presidential election is 2018 so there is plenty of time in order to clarify the challenges here to ensure that when we do go a referendum that people will understand exactly what they’re asked to do because, as you know Cathal, a number of referenda failed over the past three years, four years because of lack of clarity so…”

MacCoille: “But what you’re saying, I think, is that this is something you favour: a vote for Presidential elections. And although a decision was promised on this, it’s been delayed and delayed again. That, effectively, between now and the next election, this is a dead issue? Right?”

Deenihan: “Well the Taoiseach was quite clear in saying there would be no further referenda between this and the next election. But obviously there will be plenty of time to put it in place before the next Presidential election. And there are other issues aswell. For example, in Germany, you can be on the register for 25 years and still continue to vote [after you move abroad]. In England, it’s 15 years, in the UK. In Ireland here it’s 18 months for example. That’s why so many people could come back to vote because they would be on the register. So there are other issues. And then the Seanad working committee, for example, suggests or proposed that people with Irish passports living abroad could vote in any of the five panels of their choice..”

MacCoille: “What do you think of that idea?”

Deenihan: “Well, it’s an idea up there for consideration.”

MacCoille: “I know but what do you think of it?”

Deenihan: “Personally, I think that there should be, maybe, be a representative for the Americas, that would include North, South America and Canada; one for Europe, the UK and Europe; and one for Australia and the rest of the world. So you’d have three representatives. But first of all I think we have to establish who would be voting; what is the electoral register, and that’s a challenge in itself.”

MacCoille: “Do you know how many? Possibly?”

Deenihan: “Well at this moment of time there are about a million active Irish passport-holders but there are many more that are entitled to Irish passports that probably would..”

MacCoille: “Can I put this to you, that this is a bit sad, after what we saw. The enthusiasm and the willingness to spend money and time to come back to vote yesterday [Friday], that really what you’re reporting on, for whatever reason is, 2013, the Constitutional Convention called for this. Since then, last year we had the European Affairs Committee of the Oireachtas called for it a few months ago. The Seanad Reform Committee called for it. But all that’s happening is talk. Nothing is going to happen in the foreseeable future?”

Deenihan: “Just could I clarify. The Constitutional Convention called for a vote in Presidential elections, not in the Dáil, not in referenda.

MacCoille: “But what I’m saying is, whatever the different proposals are, all that’s happening is talk. We’re not making any progress. Am I wrong?”

Deenihan: “No I disagree with you.”

MacCoille: “Then how am I wrong?”

Deenihan: “Mentally, the next Presidential election is 2018, then you can say, when it comes to then, if it doesn’t happen then, that it was all talk. So there is time to do this thing right.”

MacCoille: “The next Seanad election will be year….”

Deenihan: “The next Seanad election, but that wasn’t from the Constitutional Convention.”

MacCoille: “Yes but the Seanad Reform Committee made a proposal, spelled out how you could do it, so why not do it?”

Deenihan:No, at the same time it’ll have to be considered by Government and I’m sure that there will be provision, following the next election, for emigrant-involved, diaspora involvement in the Seanad after the next election, that can be done in different ways. It can be done by appointment aswell.”

MacCoille: “And do you think that’s a decision this Government could make and will make?”

Deenihan: “Well certainly, I think the Taoiseach is very exercised about this matter, he’s very connected with our diaspora. I’ve never seen a Taoiseach as connected so, definitely, there will be different options considered.”

MacCoille: “Ok, well, what I’m wondering is if there’ll be a decision? In relation to the Seanad?”

Deenihan: “I think one thing about this government, they’ve made a large number of decisions.”

MacCoille: “Do you expect a decision on the question of some kind of emigrant voting rights in the Seanad in the lifetime of this government?”

Deenihan: “That’s entirely up to this government.”

MacCoille: That’s why I’m asking.

Deenihan: “I’m not in Cabinet unfortunately but it’ll be a decision that government will make. Obviously..”

MacCoille: “Would you favour it?”

Deenihan: “I would favour an involvement of the diaspora, definitely, in the Seanad. How they would do it, that’s another issue.”

MacCoille: “Can that be done as far, as you’re concerned, before the next Seanad election?”

Deenihan: “Well, definitely, I think it can be done, I think we don’t have to resort to any referenda to do that but I’ve been on record going back over 20 years now, over 25 years actually, in the Dáil, it’s on record there, saying that I favour diaspora representation in the Seanad.”

MacCoille: “That’s well known.”

Deenihan: “And the Presidential election.”

MacCoille: “Jimmy Deenihan, minister for diaspora affairs, thank you very much for talking to us.”

Listen back in full here

Previously: Diaspora Rising

Correlation Does Not Imply Causation

Pic: District Magazine

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29 thoughts on “What Now For The ‘Home To Vote’ Voters?

  1. martco

    heh heh
    heard this interview…the clown couldn’t put a coherent sentence together and he earns* (gets paid) many times more than I…so not funny atall really
    who tf votes for arses like this?
    he’s probably gud at fixshing roads or something

    1. Spaghetti Hoop

      He was Arts Minister for a time too and displayed similar incompetence. I made a habit of purposely sidling off in the wine direction whenever he got up to speak at various events and exhibitions. Gombeen.

  2. Cean

    Deenihan: “That’s entirely up to this government.”

    MacCoille: That’s why I’m asking.

    Deenihan: “I’m not in Cabinet unfortunately but it’ll be a decision that government will make. Obviously..

    So basically he was no use and should have had someone from the Cabinet on. Ok.

  3. Formerly known as @ireland.com

    It would be nice to increase the concept of democracy in the Seanad. Give the vote to all the Irish in Ireland and allocate a few seats for the diaspora.

    1. ReproBertie

      If there is a referendum on granting votes in Seanad elections to the diaspora I’d be hopeful that my grandchildren might still be alive when it comes to pass. After all, this August 3rd will be the 36th anniversary of the passing of the 7th Amendment which was to extend the provisions for the election of members of Seanad Éireann by certain universities to other institutions of higher education in the State. To date no action has been taken on this amendment.

  4. Splendido

    He mentioned the idea of Seanad representation for the diaspora as something that was going to be announced “within a matter of weeks” during his visits to various Irish centers in the USA earlier this year. I wonder what happened there.

    His interview is an utterly disappointing piece of saying absolutely nothing, and can-kickery at it’s finest. You get the feeling that for any of us living abroad to see any change on this, we’re actually going to have to keep flying home, voting and making noise about it at home rather than from abroad.

  5. Fluter Bad

    You want a say in who governs me? Get home and live under them like the rest of us, otherwise butt out.

    1. Splendido

      Ara stopping trolling with nonsense like that.

      Some of us came home post 2008/9 for the worst of it, and brought home the skills we’d learned elsewhere with us. We did our time living under the current government, dealt with joblessness, paycuts and/or taking on extra responsibility in our jobs or putting in longer hours with no extra reward, dealt with rising rents in Dublin, public transport price hikes. We got involved in our communities and did our bit. I think we’ve earned our stake and ability to have a say at this point.

      and some of us went away in the short term again to build up skills and experience to bring home and make a difference, always with the intention of coming back. We’ll be paying the salaries of our public representatives long enough when we come back, we’ll be involved again.

      1. Tidy Dave

        +1 Also, I sleep a little better knowing that very little of the tax I pay is going towards lads like Deenhian and their words of hot air.

  6. rotide

    Representation for the diaspora in either house is not an idea that will go down too well.

    Voting rights can and will happen (wtihin reason) but the idea of a TD for America will be a hard sell

    1. Splendido

      A TD for America is a terrible idea. Opening up Dail election voting for anyone with Irish citizenship is a terrible idea. To be blunt, there are many Irish-Americans (and other generations removed diaspora) with a passport but no real sense of what Irish society in 2015 is about, and far too conservative and narrow a viewpoint. It would skew things in a very weird way.

      Opening up a free Dail vote to everyone with Irish citizenship would open up to too much meddling, but there are mid points to be found, e.g. having satisfied a certain total residency requirement (e.g. 10 years in Ireland throughout your life) before getting an absentee vote.

  7. Andrew

    No representation without taxation. I lived abroad and I met too many misty eyed ‘patriots’ who would have installed Gerry Adams as dictator for life.
    By the way, isn’t there a queue coming in to Dublin Airport passport control every weekend? #hometovote my arse!

      1. Andrew

        Unemployed people who actually live here you mean?
        Anyway they are taxed through VAT on goods and services

  8. gerrup

    Our newest wave of emigrants are young, bright, open-minded and have vision.

    I can’t imagine the old status quo parties would get too hot under the collar trying to speed things along here. It would be like turkeys voting for Christmas.

      1. gerrup

        I knew someone would say that :-)

        No, is of the course the answer, but if they are thinking about retaining any time limits on the diaspora vote (as it is currently 18 months) then I would imagine that it would fall back to the most recent exodus.

        In addition, it seems that this group were the ones actively engaging in the whole #hometovote thing. It might be completely false, but my perception of those engaging with the push for a diaspora vote seem to be our recent emigrants. If that perception is incorrect, and the push is coming from the ‘older’ emigrants, it would seem odd that suddenly they are heavily engaging on it after years seemingly not saying or doing a whole lot…

  9. King Thistle

    Would we be having this argument if every conservative aul lad living in the UK had come home to vote no?

    1. Spaghetti Hoop

      Maybe they did, but were easily led astray by an appointed ‘Yes’ man for all-day scoops.

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