In 2009, Benny Donnelly was homeless on the streets of Dublin. Mostly he slept rough, though occasionally he managed to spend the night in a hostel. But he was determined to have his say in the Treaty of Lisbon referendum. Donnelly was unsure of what procedure to follow, since he didn’t have an address. But, sure of his right to vote, he headed to Bridewell Garda Station – the closest one to Merchants Quay hostel – to register. “There was no one willing to help,” he recalls. Despite his efforts, he never learned how to register to vote without a permanent address, and he’s unclear on the matter to this day. “If there was a referendum on abortion tomorrow, I’d want to vote,” he says. But he wouldn’t know how. Article 16 of the Constitution guarantees the right to vote in Dáil elections to all citizens over the age of 18. But for some it is much more difficult to vote than for others.
Anthony Flynn, director of Inner City Helping Homeless, says it’s not easy. “Information, in general, is very hard to find and isn’t generally advertised,” he says. “There’s no information in regard to how homeless people can access a voting card.”
A number of thorough Google searches confirms this. There are details of how homeless people can vote in Canada, America and the UK, but nothing to shed light on the Irish situation.
The Citizen’s Information website didn’t contain this information either, and, after four phone calls and 40 minutes of listening to grinding hold music on their phone line, I gave up on them.
Full Article: For Dublin’s Homeless, a Precarious Right to Vote.