VotingRights.ie cofounder Billy Lawless, who has been an Independent member of the Seanad for the last four years, has written to Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin to express the importance of representation for emigrants, citizens in Northern Ireland, and other nonresident citizens in a new programme of government. In the memo, Mr Lawless said, “a new programme of government should embrace a more inclusive and broader concept of citizenship, unity and nationhood as it seeks to meet the many social, health and economic challenges resulting from the pandemic”.
The memo made a number of recommendations aimed at increasing inclusiveness and enhancing democracy:
- Stand up the long promised National Elections Commission by 2021
- Commit to holding a national referendum in 2021 to allow Irish emigrants and citizens living in Northern Ireland to vote in future Presidential elections
- Create a national voter registration system and an automatic voter registration system
- The principle of one person, one vote is extended to include all Irish citizens in Northern Ireland and to holders of Irish passports living overseas. This would require the expansion of the absentee ballot process and postal voting
- Allow emigrants living overseas and in Northern Ireland to vote in future national referenda.
- Take up the challenge of acting on the many recommendations put forward by the Manning Report to reform the Seanad.
- Create a Global Panel in the Seanad to include greater representation of Irish citizens living abroad and seek to add more Northern representation to the Seanad as well.
Read the full memo: Voting Rights & Electoral Reform in New Programme of Government 4 06 2020