Sinn Féin has called for voting rights in the presidential election to be extended to Irish citizens in Northern Ireland. In a protest outside Leinster House yesterday, members of Ógra Shinn Féin wore the county jerseys of Antrim, Armagh, Derry, Down, Fermanagh and Tyrone with a gag covering their mouths to indicate the lack of voting rights for those in the North.
The party is expected to introduce a Private Members’ motion in the Dáil in the autumn on the issue. Sinn Féin education spokesman Seán Crowe said the extension of voting rights was “a natural outworking of the Good Friday agreement, which enshrines the rights of people in the North to Irish citizenship”.
He said the president represented the Irish diaspora and the vote should be extended to Irish citizens abroad as well. He believed a referendum could be introduced on the issue before the presidential election in October, although the party has called for the issue to be brought to referendum before the 2018 presidential election.
The Dublin South West TD said if the political will was there, legislation could be passed very quickly to allow for a referendum to extend the vote to those in the North and to Irish citizens abroad.
He said there was “nothing outrageous about our demand” and called on candidates in the presidential election to indicate their views on the issue. Extending the vote should be part of political reforms along with changes in the criteria for presidential candidate nominations, Mr Crowe added.
The difficulties candidates had in getting nominations – through the backing of four local authorities or 20 TDs and senators – had been demonstrated in this election, he said.