Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s prime minister, has received a timely boost after the opposition party that keeps his minority government in power pledged not to force an election because of the turmoil over Brexit. The move by Fianna Fáil will bolster Mr Varadkar in talks over a “backstop” on the Irish border, one of the most contentious elements of the EU withdrawal agreement that UK prime minister Theresa May is fighting to get through the British parliament. It underscores the depth of anxiety in Dublin about the threat of damage to the country’s economy and Northern Ireland’s peace settlement from a disorderly no-deal Brexit. Mrs May was forced to cancel emergency talks with Mr Varadkar planned for Wednesday as she battled a confidence motion from her own Conservative party.
Articles about voting issues in Ireland.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Saturday he has no plans to call an election before Christmas and that uncertainty over Brexit must take precedence over the outcome of talks to extend an expiring government cooperation deal. Varadkar’s Fine Gael party and the main opposition group backing his minority government began talks on whether to renew their “confidence and supply” deal three weeks ago. His deputy leader said on Friday the agreement had a few more weeks to run. Varadkar insists that he wants to extend the pact until mid-2020, rather than capitalize on his Fine Gael party’s increased popularity by calling an immediate snap election.
A referendum on extending voting rights to Irish citizens overseas in Presidential elections is planned for May 24th, 2019, the same day as local and European Parliament elections, Senator Billy Lawless has said. Speaking at a meeting organised by the Votes for Irish Citizens Abroad (VICA) campaign in London, Mr Lawless said he had been assured by Minister of State for Local Government and Electoral Reform, John Paul Phelan, that work was progressing on a Bill to be put before the people in a referendum, asking whether they agreed with extending the franchise to the Irish abroad. “The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney and Minister for the Diaspora, Ciaran Cannon are very committed to getting this referendum over the line. They will do everything he can to secure a Yes vote. So we have the Government’s support.”
About 130 countries and territories around the world have some system in place to allow their citizens to vote no matter where in the world they live, but Irish citizens lose their right if they have lived outside the State for more than 18 months. Those who fall within that time limit must travel back to their home constituency to cast their ballot, as there is no system in place for absentee voting except in very limited circumstances.
The proposed referendum will cover voting in Presidential elections only. It is not yet clear whether it will propose extending the vote to all Irish citizens living in the North and abroad, or limit it to Irish passport holders only, or those born in Ireland, perhaps with a time limit after emigrating.
Full Article: ‘Emigrants have been denied the vote for far too long’.
The Irish presidential election is to be held on Friday, 26 October, it has been confirmed. Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy confirmed the news this morning on RTÉ’s Today with Miriam O’Callaghan. In a statement, Murphy announced that he had made a Presidential Election Order, setting out key dates in the election process. The last date for receipt of a nomination is 26 September while the winner of the 26 October election will be inaugurated two weeks later on 11 November 2018. Murphy has appointed Barry Ryan as the Presidential Returning Officer.
A Presidential election is now a certainty after Sinn Fein this afternoon decided to field a candidate. The decision was made following a meeting of the party’s Ard Comhairle today. A candidate will be selected at a later date. The party has set up a committee, chaired by Waterford TD David Cullinane, to establish a process for selecting a candidate. This process is expected to be outlined in the next 10 days. A candidate will then be nominated in the coming months. Party leader Mary Lou McDonald said there has already been considerable interest from a number of potential candidates.
Ireland: Online voter registration system to deal with dead voters and multiple votes | The Irish Times
Online registration for voters is to be introduced, the Department of Local Government has said. The online system will use a “single identifier” which is most likely to be an individual’s Personal Public Service (PPS) number. It is expected to take two to three years to implement and will replace 23 different forms with one form for registration. The array of forms currently include change of address, the supplementary registration and various postal voting forms. Minister of State John Paul Phelan said the voter registration problem was the biggest issue that continually arose in elections and referendums; that “people are registered in multiple places because they’ve moved houses and also the continuation of people being on registers years after they’ve passed away”.
Ireland began voting on Friday in an abortion referendum that could be a milestone on a path of change in a country that, only two decades ago, was one of Europe’s most socially conservative. Polls suggest Irish voters are set to overturn one of the world’s strictest bans on terminations. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, in favour of change, has called the referendum a “once-in-a-generation” chance. Voters in the once deeply Catholic nation will be asked if they wish to scrap a prohibition that was enshrined in the constitution by referendum 35 year ago, and partly lifted in 2013 only for cases where the mother’s life is in danger.
Anti-abortion campaigners have sidestepped Google’s ban on online adverts relating to the referendum in Ireland on Friday, so as to promote their message on popular websites. This May the tech company banned paid messages relating to the referendum from appearing on its services, which dominates many aspects of online advertising. But campaigners have turned to alternative online ad sales platforms to push adverts to Irish readers of news sites. These sites have included the Atlantic, Washington Post and the Guardian, and ads have also been aimed at readers of women’s lifestyle websites and players of mobile games. Some of these ultimately use elements of Google technology to serve the adverts, despite the company’s commitment to pulling out of the referendum.
Ireland: Online ads restricted ahead of Ireland’s abortion vote amid concerns over social media influence | Associated Press
Ireland: As polls narrow before the abortion vote, is rural Ireland setting up a Brexit moment? | The Guardian
The polls have narrowed so much that a result once nearly taken for granted now hangs in the balance; the media are under fierce attack for bias; and questions are swirling about foreign influence and online ads. As Ireland heads into the last week of campaigning for its historic referendum on abortion, the long shadow of two recent surprise election results – the Brexit referendum across the Irish sea, and Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 US presidential poll – is hanging over Irish voters. They will decide on Friday whether to repeal an amendment dating back to the 1980s that enshrined in the constitution a near-total ban on abortion. The controls are the strictest in any western democracy, meaning that the battle has been closely watched by anti-abortion activists across the world.