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EU Affairs Committee hears call for voting rights for Irish living in other Member States

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on European Union Affairs this afternoon heard a call for voting rights in national elections to be conferred on Irish citizens living in other EU Member States.

11 March 2014

Head of the European Commission Representation in Ireland Barbara Nolan and Political Affairs Officer Eimear Ní Bhroin were addressing the Committee. It is the first of a series of hearings into the voting rights of citizens within the European Union.

Chairman of the Committee Dominic Hannigan TD says: “We thank Ms Nolan for outlining the European Commission’s recent guidance, which criticised Ireland and four other Member States for disenfranchising voters who have exercised their right to free movement in the EU. It was pointed out that mobility across the European Union, compared for instance with the United States, is relatively low with just three percent of EU citizens living in different EU Member State from their home country. We take on board the Commission’s central argument that citizens should not lose their voting rights in national elections in moving to another Member State.

“While Ms Nolan did make it clear that this guidance is legally non-binding, Committee Members note that it poses a number of important questions for Ireland’s electoral system. Helped in recent years by cheap airfares and advances in digital technology, many Irish citizens living abroad feel deeply connected with political events at home. In the coming weeks the Committee will hear from a cross section of opinion as it carefully considers how to progress this important issue for the many Irish communities based in other EU Member States. This afternoon the Committee agreed that, as part of this public process, it would afford each of the political parties and groupings in the Oireachtas an opportunity to present their approach to the voting rights of Irish citizens in other EU Member States.”

Media enquiries to:
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Committee Membership
Deputies: Eric Byrne, Seán Crowe, Timmy Dooley, Bernard J. Durkan, John Halligan, Dominic Hannigan (Chair), Seán Kyne, Dara Murphy (Vice-Chair) and Joe O’Reilly
Senators: Colm Burke, John Kelly, Terry Leyden, Catherine Noone and Kathryn Reilly