So it has begun. The Centennial Year: 40 State-sponsored events, hundreds of local commemorations, events in New York and Washington DC and countless other places where the Irish diaspora has gathered. After a shaky start, the Government has righted itself and come forward with a thoughtful and comprehensive programme that culminates in a series of Easter anniversary events and a major national conference on the future of the Republic 100 years on. Countless books will be published, and historians will be in demand on talk shows as Irish people take a long look back of what they have made of the Republic. Everything thing seems well in hand to celebrate how far we have come, except for the reality that one million Irish emigrants are effectively non-citizens of this Republic. They can’t vote.
When it comes to the matter of emigrants, Ireland is of two minds; the current Government’s policies reflect that divide. One the one hand, the Department of Foreign Affairs under Charlie Flanagan embraces the diaspora and has smartly branded Ireland as a “Global Island”. The DFA has an energetic Minister for Diaspora Affairs in Jimmy Deenihan, has included the diaspora in its centennial planning, and last year held its first Global Civic Forum, bringing together scores of emigrants representatives.
The rest of the Government, however, seems unwilling to address the reality that Ireland lacks a modern absentee ballot process, and lags behind every nation in the EU save for tiny Malta when it comes to giving its emigrant citizens the right to vote. Indeed, the Republic lags behind the vast majority of nations in the world, about 125, that have already established an absentee ballot process for their citizens.
Full Article: It’s time in 2016 to grant Irish abroad the right to vote.