Matt Carthy MEP has confirmed that he has repeatedly raised, with both the Irish government and the European Commission, the need to grant enfranchisement to Irish citizens living aboard.
Speaking from Brussels this week, Matt Carthy MEP said:
‘Ireland is one of the few EU Member States that gives zero voting rights to its citizens living abroad. The right to vote is a basic civil right. The continual deprival of the Irish government of voting rights to its citizens abroad leads to unnecessary political disempowerment.
“I had previously enquired of the European Commission as to whether Ireland’s policy on voting rights denies the democratic participation of its citizens.
“The Commission clarified that they strongly encourage Member States to enable their citizens to retain their right to vote in national elections.
“Further, in 2014, the European Commission addressed a recommendation to the Irish government, along with four other Member States, calling for voting rights to be granted to their citizens, and outlining the multiple ways this can be achieved.
“Granting voting rights to Irish citizens living abroad is not only possible, but would enhance democracy in our country. The commission communication recommends that the process of granting voting rights should be simplified, by allowing citizens living abroad to remain registered on the electoral roll, and through electronic means.
“Notably, Irish citizens working in the EU institutions have repeatedly called on the Irish government to grant their enfranchisement, who despite representing Ireland on a daily basis they are refused the right to vote in their home country.
“As we reach the final stages in the referendum campaign on the 8th amendment it is likely that many Irish citizens, who have recently moved abroad, will return home to cast their vote. It is unfair that many thousands more will not have that opportunity. The Irish government must address their policy regarding voting rights which hinders and removes Irish citizens from their ability to be politically active in their own country.
“It is surely ironic that successive Irish governments who have been so quick to jump to the tune of the European Commission across several policy areas decide that it is on the issue of rights for Irish people to vote that they ignore EU recommendations”.