Major development in the Irish Constitution

The Irish GovernmentThe Irish Government (the Oireachtas) has a body called the Convention to advise on changes in the Irish Constitution. This  Convention recommends voting rights for Irish citizens living outside of the State. The Convention on the Constitution has today voted in favour of recommending the extension of voting rights in Presidential elections for Irish citizens who are resident outside of the State, including Irish citizens resident in Northern Ireland.

The Convention on the Constitution is a forum of 100 people, representative of Irish society and parliamentarians from the island of Ireland, with an independent Chairman.  78% of the Convention approved this change. For its part, the Government has undertaken to respond to the Convention's recommendations within four months by way of debates in the Oireachtas and where it agrees with a particular recommendation to amend the Constitution, to include a time-frame for a referendum.

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SIGNIFICANCE
1.  Ireland is, beyond the UK, the major State in Europe (others are Greece and Denmark) which has till now denied the overseas citizen any say in Government.  They is no certainty as yet that this change will apply to all Irish citizens but it looks likely that it will (see details in the  link above)

2. Note well that all persons borne in the ISLAND of Ireland before 2005 can claim Irish citizenship.  This means that probably the majority of people living in Northern Ireland  are likely to be able to have the vote for the President of Ireland.  This step is therefore partly a move towards affirming the whole island of Ireland as a political unity.

3. THE ROLE of the PRESIDENT is similar to that of our Queen.  He/She does not decide policy, or formulate laws.  Therefore this is not the same role as that of the President of the United States.  This change would not give the expatriate any say in the running of Irish politics.

4. But it would be a significant step forwards in recognising the worth of the expatriate Irish citizen, and in uniting Irish citizens world wide.  And so it must have some impact on the discussion concerning recognition of the expatriate British Citizen by the British Government.

 

Brian Cave

E: lefourquet@orange.fr

 

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