Dublin MEP Brian Hayes has today (Wednesday) said the Government needs to look at the voting rights of Irish citizens living outside of Ireland. The Fine Gael MEP was speaking in the European Parliament in Strasbourg where MEPs were discussing the disenfranchisement of voting rights in the EU.
“The right to vote in elections is a fundamental right. However, Ireland is one of the worst EU Member States in terms of extending voting rights to its citizens abroad. Malta is the only other EU Member State with similar rules to Ireland, requiring voters to be resident in the country to vote in National Elections”
“Every other EU Member State has a method whereby expats are eligible to vote. This can be done by post, online or at an embassy. The vast majority of Member States have rules that if you resided in the country for more than 18 months within the last 10 years you are eligible to vote in that constituency.”
“There a thousands of Irish citizens across the EU that are denied the basic right of voting. For example over 2,000 Irish citizens who work for the EU in Brussels have no vote in an Irish General election as they are not resident in Ireland nor are they entitled to vote in the Belgian election as they are not domiciled in Belgium. Similarly, after Brexit over 300,000 Irish citizens in Britain will lose their right to vote in European elections as Irish law prevents them from having a postal vote.”
“I believe the Government needs to look at this issue and look at what other EU Member States have done or currently doing. For example – Cyprus sets up a polling station in another EU Member State if more than 50 Cypriots register to vote. Malta are also planning to provide polling stations where there is a high concentration of Maltese such as Rome, Brussels and London.”
“Too many Irish citizens are being deprived of their right to vote and it’s only right ways to address this issue are considered,” concluded MEP Hayes