Irish living in UK should have a right to vote in the
next European Elections – Hayes
Majority of EU Member States allow their citizens living outside the EU the right to vote
50,000 UK citizens living in Ireland should continue to be able to vote in EU elections
Speaking in London at a public meeting organised by Votes for Irish Citizens Abroad (VICA), Fine Gael Dublin MEP, Brian Hayes said that a way should be found to accommodate Irish citizens living in the UK to vote in the next European Parliament Elections in 2019.
“Over 331,000 Irish citizens live in Britain. Not only are they Irish citizens, they are also EU citizens. Currently they can vote in European Parliament elections while living in Britain. That is going to change because of Brexit and I believe their right to vote should be upheld.”
The Dublin MEP said that the majority of EU Member States do not deprive their citizens of the right to vote when living in another country.
“Ireland, Czech Republic, Malta and Slovakia are the only EU Member States who do not allow their nationals living outside of the country the right to vote in their home EU elections. All other Member States have systems in place to facilitate some form of non-resident voting in EU elections.”
“Austria, Finland, France, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden grant their nationals the right to vote irrespective of their country of residence. Other Member States such as Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Italy and Portugal gives a choice of voting to their non-resident nationals – either voting in their home country or country of residence, provided that they are living in an EU Member State.”
“Ireland is firmly in the minority when it comes to granting voting rights to non-resident citizens and is set to be marginalised further as Malta intends to offer its citizens in Belgium, UK and Italy the right to vote in the next European Elections in 2019 as part of a trial process.
“Under EU rules any EU citizen can vote in EU elections in any of the 28 Member States. This means that Irish citizens in the UK can register to vote in the European Elections in the UK.”
“However, when the UK leaves the EU, Irish citizens will automatically lose their right to vote in EU elections. In contrast; French, Dutch, Spanish and other nationalities residing in the UK will be eligible to vote in their home country.”
“I want the Government to look at this issue to see if a solution can be found. A simple change to the Electoral Act would suffice in extending voting rights to Irish citizens in the UK. The following steps might provide a way forward in advance of 2019.
- Allow Irish citizens, living in any part of the UK the right to vote in European elections in Ireland, provided that they were “ordinarily resident” in the Republic of Ireland within the last 10 years. (i.e) that at some point in the past 10 years a person was on the Irish electoral register before moving to the UK.
- You continue to vote where you were registered before as EU Elections in Ireland are determined by where people live in one of three constituencies – Dublin, Ireland North West and Ireland South.
- In advance of Election Day, registered voters living in the UK would vote via postal ballot as is the case currently for members of the Defence Forces or alternatively a number of polling stations across the UK could be established for the purposes of allowing people vote or for the purposes of voter identification.
“Conditions for the eligibility to vote in European elections are governed by national law. Ireland is therefore able to extend voting rights to Irish citizens in the UK. No referendum is required. Similarly, Ireland could extend the right to vote in European Parliament elections to the 50,000 UK citizens registered to vote in Ireland. I have previously called on the Government to examine this so as to uphold the rights of UK citizens living in Ireland, effectively recognising UK citizens living in the European Union.
“Given the unique relationship between Ireland and the UK and the fact that other EU nationals living in the UK will continue to vote in European Parliament elections post Brexit – why should Irish citizens be disadvantaged? The European Parliament derives its authority from a directly elected mandate. It has grown since the Lisbon Treaty into a genuinely important voice for EU citizens. Brexit should not diminish the rights and democratic expression of those who want the EU to succeed and prosper.”