Electoral (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2015: Report and Final Stages

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 6, between lines 14 and 15, to insert the following:

“(c) A citizen over 18 applying to be included on the supplementary register may supply photocopies of photographic ID such as a drivers licence, passport or Department of Social Protection card, as proof of identity, rather than having to have a form signed by a member of An Garda Síochána.”.

This amendment seeks to simplify the method of getting onto the register of electors and have a measure of consistency. One can fill in a form and include one's date of birth, telephone number, nationality and other details and that is accepted by a local authority as proof of the fact that one is eligible to be included in the register of electors. The problem arises with the supplementary register. In the recent referendum a large number of young people were included in the supplementary register; in excess of 60,000 became eligible to vote by way of the register. The amendment seeks to streamline the electoral process, without compromising its integrity.

At present, one can go to a Garda station to have the form signed. However, many Garda stations have been closed in the past 15 years. In coastal counties and various other parts of the country it could be a long distance to the local Garda station. In addition, apart from what is called the green man on the wall, the box into which one speaks, the local Garda station is not open. Many stations are only open for an hour or two a day or a couple of days each week. This creates a difficulty in getting onto the register of electors for those who are working, as they cannot attend their local Garda station to have the form signed. It is a real problem and people across the political spectrum are complaining about it.

We are proposing that a citizen over 18 years of age applying to be included in the supplementary register supply photocopies of photographic identity such as a driver's licence, passport or a Department of Social Protection card that includes a photograph as proof of identity rather than being obliged to have a form signed by a member of An Garda Síochána.

That is a very simple process to set up, if we want to do it, and we believe it can be done.

We are anxious to stamp out any electoral fraud or any attempt by people who should not be on the register to be on it, or to be on it more than once. I have spoken here many times on the need to improve the register of electors by ensuring that as many eligible voters as possible are on it. This amendment seeks to aid this process. The recent referendum showed that young people are anxious to vote if there is a topic that excites and interests them, and we must make it easier for them.

We have a very unusual way of registering people to vote in that there are certain periods of the year when they can and cannot join the register. After 25 November, people will not be able to get on the register of electors because the corrections and amendments process will be closed. Therefore, it is a fairly restricted process. As it stands, a person can fill out the corrections and amendments form up to 25 November without supplying any photographic evidence or evidence of identity. We need to be consistent. When the supplementary register period arrives, all of a sudden, we change the rules and we make people jump this hurdle. Our party is anxious that there be consistency, so we need to look more seriously at the issue of proof of identity.

In the case of the supplementary register, the upcoming general election gives us the opportunity to get it right. Young people are interested in voting and those who are not on the register may decide they need to get onto it. We all know the electoral register is a mess. There are now fewer councillors, rent collectors and rates collectors. They were a great source of information for the local authorities in regard to who was living at what address and for taking people off the register who were on it more than once. This is an opportunity to simplify the process.

We put forward the amendment sincerely to try to aid the process and to allow the opportunity to those who are entitled the vote and who should be on the register to get onto it through the supplementary register. To go to a Garda station is fine if there is one around the corner and it is open 24-7. However, a person would travel a long way in a county like Laois, Kildare or Offaly, or the Minister of State's county, to find a Garda station open 24-7. It is very difficult for people who are working to get that window of opportunity within that restricted time. What we are trying to do is to rule out any opportunity for anybody to do this in a fraudulent way. It is a way of validating the process and making sure the electoral register is more up to date.

There is a logic to this amendment and to the idea of major changes to the electoral register, which have been debated not only in the House but at the Constitutional Convention and other places. This is a simple change that will allow people to register with ease right up to the current cut-off date. After that, it would be the responsibility of anybody on the supplementary register to show identification when presenting for a vote. That would be different to anybody who goes through the other process of just being on the register in the normal sense, in that they may be asked. This would allow people to get on the register in the first place.

The recent referendum showed the number of people who are not on the register, given that 60,000 people registered for the supplementary register in a very short period in order to be allowed to vote. It is scary that 60,000 people were not on the register and had not engaged somehow or other, or had not thought it that important to be on the register. It suggests how inaccurate our electoral register is in comparison to other countries where there is automatic registration once the person reaches 18, or countries where people can be fined or taxed if they do not vote. While we are not looking to go to that extreme, we are trying to ensure it is easier for people to get on the register.

Deputy Stanley referred to Garda stations. In my own area there are quite a number of Garda stations, so that would not be the problem. However, there are many people who do not want to be in a Garda station and, in fact, the last place they want to be is in a Garda station, so they are not going to go out of their way to go there. However, even in cases where they do attend at, say, the Garda stations at Pearse Street or Kilmainham, they could be half an hour waiting for a garda to present at the public desk to stamp any form, never mind a supplementary electoral register form.

There is an argument that we need to look at a more modern approach to a rolling register rather than applying the cut-off date that has been in place because of the huge burden on local authorities in the past as a result of the paper-based system. Years ago, before the advent of the computer, the local authority deadlines were November and February, but in this day and age it is a joke that we still have the same deadlines even though the system is computerised. This needs to be looked at with a view to getting rid of that system and allowing for a rolling register, where everybody registers in the same way until the set date, whether that is two or three weeks before the election, or a week after the election is called.

Nowadays we also have forms of photographic identification which were not available when, as Minister, Deputy Ruairí Quinn introduced this restriction on the supplementary register. I am old enough, or I was young enough, to remember Deputy Quinn bringing in the change which restricted how people got onto the supplementary register, so it is quite a new change. In this era, however, the vast majority of the population would have access to one of the forms of identification which are required, for example, a passport or driving licence, both of which have photographic identifiers, or the Department of Social Protection card, which now has a scanned photograph. As far as I know, by the end of this year or during next year, the vast majority of people will have photographic identification from the Department of Social Protection, whether they are claiming a social welfare payment or not. There is also student identification and the Garda national youth identification card.

There is a huge amount that can be done in this day and age. We have seen the whole discussion about everyone being able to register for the property tax, the water conservation grant, SUSI grants and housing applications. A lot can be done so why can we not bring the electoral register up to date in terms of the way it is inputted? This is one system that needs to be reformed, and the amendment is a simple one that addresses the difficulties some people have in getting on the register. For example, people move address and forget to register, and then, all of a sudden, the election is called and they realise they have forgotten to do it. Some people in our society could not be bothered and they will not go out of their way to register, whereas, if there is a form in front of them, they will sign it and send it in the post, as has been the case in the past. However, if they are asked to take the trouble to attend a Garda station, they will not do that.

In fairness to An Garda Síochána, in my own area they have sometimes facilitated people by having a garda go into community centres to stamp forms. I would encourage this and would suggest that, with an election forthcoming, the Garda and the local authorities would work together to try to ensure we register those people who, for some reason or another, have forgotten or could not put the extra burden on themselves to go to a Garda station.

Given the huge decrease in the number of Garda stations around the country now, it can be difficult for people who do not have their own transport to get to them. I know I am asking gardaí to do another job they should not have to do in asking them to be present to ensure there is no electoral fraud.

In regard to the register, I know from invigilators who travel around to ensure the register is accurate that the number of invigilators in Dublin has dropped substantially and that they have not been replaced in recent years. We used to have 15 invigilators for the city and they covered the whole city and got to every address every year. Now we only have nine, and they only get to cover three or four postal districts each year. This suggests the electoral register in the city is inaccurate. If that is true of this city, I cannot say what the situation is in other local authority areas responsible for ensuring their registers are accurate. As I said earlier, this is a debate we need to have on a larger scale. I believe Deputy Stanley's proposal is reasonable.

Despite the best efforts of many, including local authorities, who are the registration authorities, and ourselves as public representatives, many people do not think of checking or updating their registration details at the time of the annual renewal of the electoral register. I know the issue of the electoral register arises at council meetings and gives rise to significant debate.

Sometimes people only think of registering when an election or referendum is called. The law provides for this by way of the supplement to the register of electors. In the majority of cases, people make application for entry in the supplement in the few weeks after the polling day order is made. For the referendums in May 2015, there were over 60,000 applications for entry to the supplement to the register. We need therefore to have adequate checks in place to prevent potential abuses.

I acknowledge that the situation can arise that for one reason or another a person may not be in a position to have his or her application for entry in the supplement to the register of electors signed by a member of An Garda Síochána. However, as I said last week, there is already provision in the Electoral Act 1992 to address this situation. Where an applicant establishes in writing that he or she is unable to have his or her application signed by a garda, the form can be signed by the applicant in the presence of an official of the registration authority. The official must be satisfied as to the applicant's identity and photographic or other identification may be required for this. It can also be the case that due to physical illness or disability, a person cannot have his or her form signed by a garda or is not in a position to sign the application in the presence of an official of the registration authority. In such a case, the law provides that the supplement application must be accompanied by a medical certificate. I consider that these arrangements strike a reasonable balance between facilitating voter registration and ensuring there are adequate measures in place to counteract any possible abuse.

Supplementary applications are usually made in a short time period, after an election or referendum is called. Registration authorities and people more generally are not in a position to check these applications in the same way as they can at the annual renewal of the register. The verification arrangements for supplement applicants serve to assist registration authorities in processing applications for entry in the supplement to the register of electors. The Government does not accept that these checks should or could be weakened and therefore opposes the amendment.

The Minister of State mentioned stamping out abuse and we all want that. In the past, I have highlighted suggestions that would help matters. Deputy Ó Snodaigh mentioned the need for a rolling register. We could look North to see how it operates there. They may not have a perfect system, but they certainly have a better system in that there is a rolling register. In terms of trying to get onto the register there, the system is the same at all times of the year.

The key issue here is the need to ensure that the applicant to the register resides in the constituency, is eligible to be included on the register of electors and to stamp out abuse. This amendment is an attempt to make a small change that could make a significant difference. The Minister of State will know from campaigning in local government and Dáil elections over the years that there is a huge problem in regard to the supplement. First there is the short time frame, but there is also the problem of the need to sign the form at the Garda station. This can be very difficult for people in rural areas or because of people's work schedules.

The Minister of State mentioned that condition may be waived by way of validating an application in writing. It is difficult for people to do that as people are not facilitated to do so through the use of community centres throughout the country for registration purposes as suggested by Deputy Ó Snodaigh for Dublin. That would be one step in the right direction. I am disappointed the Government does not intend to accept the amendment as it was made in a positive spirit and would copperfasten the system and ensure the electoral register was not abused by way of late entries to the supplement.

I do not understand the rationale for opposing the amendment. In the Minister of State's contribution, she said we must have safeguards in place to ensure the electoral register is accurate and that no fraud is committed by individuals making applications to the supplementary register. However, we do not have any of these safeguards in place for people applying to be entered on the regular register before the cut-off deadline, which is 25 November this year. Applicants are not required to go to a Garda station and can just submit their form. No photographic identification is required. The form is posted to the local authority and the applicant goes on the register. However, if somebody wants to go onto the supplementary register, he or she must go to a Garda station or, if they cannot do that, get written confirmation they cannot attend the station. Failing that, they must submit a medical certificate.

This does not add up. There is more scope for fraud in regard to the current registration system than in regard to the supplementary register. All Deputy Stanley's amendment seeks to do is to make the process simpler. The bar he sets in his amendment is higher than the bar for the normal register. He proposes people should be able to attend a local authority with photographic identification and be added to the register. Up to 25 November, that is not even necessary.

Abuse has been mentioned, but there are many examples around Europe and elsewhere of systems that do not have the restrictions our system has but that have tight safeguards to ensure abuse does not happen. Some systems are based on national ID cards or PPS numbers or the equivalent, yet they allow a greater use of postal votes. We have one of the most restrictive systems in the world in regard to postal votes.

The Minister of State also suggested that applicants to the register could access an official from the electoral office or local authority. The same problem pertains in that regard as pertains to attendance at a Garda station in rural areas, because not every council has offices dotted around the constituency.

Town councils have been closed in this city and some of the local authority offices are closing because Dublin City Council has rolled back on centralising services once again. The reasonable balance in this amendment, which is not something new - we have argued this on a number of occasions - is that anybody who presents for a supplementary vote will register in the normal way but when they present for a vote they will be asked for a photographic ID. The ID is already determined for road traffic purposes. There is certain ID that is acceptable for the driver licence test or the driver theory test which does not include the Garda national ID system. The bar concerning ID must be set and that is what has to be presented at the desk when one looks to vote if it is from the supplementary register.

There is time between 25 November and February when the register comes into force for applications for the register to be checked and verified. In respect of the supplementary register, the Electoral Act 1992 provides that where a person cannot have their form signed by a Garda they can sign it in the presence of an official of the registration authority if they provide the necessary identification. The provision is in place. Perhaps it may be open to local authorities to do at a local level what they deem necessary. The Government is not accepting this amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 6, after line 44, to insert the following:

"Amendment of Electoral Act 1992, Referendum Act 1994 and Presidential Elections Act 1993 in order to change island voting and to provide for related matters

4. (1) Section 85 of Part 15 of the Electoral Act 1992 is hereby repealed.

(2) Section 42 of the Presidential Elections Act 1993 is hereby amended by the substitution of "section 86" for sections 85 and 86".

(3) Section 30 of the Referendum Act 1994 is hereby amended by the substitution of "section 86" for "sections 85 and 86".

(4) (a) The Minister may make regulations for the general purpose of this section and may, by regulation, provide for any matter referred to in this Act or to be prescribed.

(b) Every regulation under this section shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and, if a resolution

annulling the regulation is passed by either such House within the next 21 days on which that House has sat after the regulation is laid before it, the regulation shall be annulled accordingly but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done under the regulation.

(c) Regulations under this section may contain such incidental, supplementary and consequential provisions as appear to the Minister to be

necessary or expedient for the purposes of the regulations.".

Molaim an leasú seo. Bhí plé fada againn ar an gceist seo sa choiste an lá faoi dheireadh. Níl na hargóintí athruithe ó shin. Tá sé éagórach nach mbíonn an vótáil ar na hoileáin ar an lá céanna leis an mórthír. Níl aon mhíniú tugtha ag aon duine cén fáth gur féidir toghchán i ndiaidh thoghcháin a dhéanamh thíos i gCorcaigh ach nach féidir é a dhéanamh i nGaillimh, Maigh Eo nó Tír Chonaill. Níl na hoileánaigh sásta faoi seo. Tá siad ag iarraidh go mbeidh na cearta céanna acu siúd agus iad ag vótáil agus atá ag daoine ar an mórthír. Mar sin, tá mé ag brú an leasaithe seo agus ag súil, fiú ag an nóiméad deiridh seo, go mbeidh dea-scéal ag an Aire tráthnóna dom agus go ndéarfaidh sí go bhfuil i gceist glacadh leis an leasú seo. Seo leasú atá thar a bheith réasúnach agus atá bunaithe ar an saol mar atá sé faoi láthair agus ní ar an saol mar a bhí sé fadó.

We discussed this amendment at length on Committee Stage. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív said he would table it again on Report Stage. I understand the issue is of keen interest to the Deputy for many years. I said on Committee Stage that I appreciate his interest in facilitating voting by our island communities. The key objective is to ensure that ballot boxes from island polling stations are at the count centre at 9 a.m. on the day of the count. It is not desirable that the count for any constituency should be delayed because all the ballot boxes are not at the count centre. The provisions of the Electoral Acts are in place to cater for this. I agree with the Deputy, as I did on Committee Stage, that cancellations of island ferry services are few and far between but the fact is and does remain that they do happen and we need to provide for such situations.

The returning officer in the constituency is best placed to decide on whether the poll should be taken on an island on an earlier date. It would not, therefore, make sense to repeal section 85 of the Electoral Act 1992. Again, the Government is opposing this amendment.

I am still intrigued. There are four counties involved. In respect of the counties involved the number of days on which the ferries do not sail are very few and far between, especially if we omit the months of December and January when it is unlikely that any election will be held. Even if an election was called in January it is likely to be held in February.

It is amazing that there is no problem with doing this every time in Cork and that the Cork returning officer does not consider there is any risk to the boxes not being at the count centre on time. Invariably he does it on the same day. An island such as oileán Cléire would not have the same level of services as the Aran islands. It would not have anything like the services Arranmore island in Donegal has which is an inshore island right beside the coast. Will the Minister of State explain why it is that Arranmore, for example, would fail to get the boxes to the count centre on time rather than, say, places in County Wicklow because of snow? Why is it that those people have to vote two days earlier, thus missing out on the end of the campaign given that in Cork it can always be done on the same day and it has never failed those concerned to get the count done expeditiously.

Evidence shows there is no justification for the decisions being taken. It is inconceivable that one has to wait two days for boxes to come in. That is the situation in Mayo and Donegal without any difference between the islands, which is also extraordinary. No account is taken of the difference between inshore islands or outshore islands and nobody bothers to look at the record of non-sailings and so on and, therefore, there is no validity to the case. As I have said, one of the returning officers, or maybe different people over a long period, invariably makes the sensible decision that times have moved on and that this is a spurious provision that is not needed. Two of the returning officers think it takes two days to get in and out of the island and one thinks it takes an extra day. There is no logic to that because if one looks at failed sailings, which is not the only way of bringing in boxes from the island, one will find there is no rationale in the way these decisions are being made. I am very disappointed at the position being taken by the Government on this matter. It does not seem to have examined it analytically and rationally and that it has simply dug in its heels and said it is not going there.

I regret I was Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government for only five weeks. During most of that period there was an election under way and I could not bring in the legislation to have this matter rectified. In ten or 20 years' time people would wonder what that provision had been all about when piers, boats, etc., had all changed radically and there were aeroplanes on the island.

I ask the Minister of State to reconsider her decision. If she cannot do so this evening I suggest she reconsider it when it goes to the Seanad after which it will come back to this House. She can give the democratic rights which are being denied to the islanders. Basically, this is a denial of democratic rights to people in our society.

I wish to voice my support and that of my party for this amendment. I will take up where Deputy Ó Cuív left off. This does not just undermine the democratic rights of islanders. What has happened for many years is unconstitutional. This is not the first time I have said this in this House. Will the Minister of State liaise with the Attorney General to see if the practices taking place on a number of islands in the past number of elections are constitutional? I will spell out what is unconstitutional about what is happening. Under the current system, which allows returning officers to designate polling days on off-shore islands, we have the postal vote, which was discussed in respect of the previous amendment by my colleagues. The window for applying for a postal vote ceases a number of days after the order designating the polling day across the State. Many of the island communities do not know for a number of days when the actual election will take place on their islands. Therefore, they are not in a position to fill in an application form and say that on Thursday, 23 May or Friday, 14 January, they will be working away from home and are, therefore, entitled to a postal vote because they could be home on Thursday but they may not be at home on Friday because their work takes them elsewhere. A student would not know if the polling day was on Saturday instead of Thursday when they would not be able to vote on the island because they would be in college, so they are unable to apply for the postal vote.

The problem here is the lag in terms of designating the day and how that conflicts with allowing people to exercise one of the most precious and cherished rights that people have in this country, namely, the right to vote. I have said before that this Government is leaving itself wide open to a legal challenge relating to islanders who have not had the polling date designated by the returning officer in time to allow them to comply with the postal vote rules in legislation.

Outside of that, this is an antiquated system that has no place in a modern democracy. We are not talking about the Antarctic. We are talking about islands off our coast. When people on the islands become seriously ill, we have mechanisms to airlift them off the islands. We are not going around in currachs anymore, trying to bring the ballot boxes to and from our islands. This is 2015. This is about making sure that everybody has the right to cast their vote after a proper and thorough debate.

I draw the Minister of State's attention to another important election that took place in recent times in this State, namely, the presidential election. As a Chamber that holds the values of democracy and democratic debate very dear, we must look back at that debate. We all acknowledge that there was a turning point in that debate for many of our citizens after the live television debate and yet the islanders had already voted. They had already cast their votes before that debate took place. Therefore, despite the fact the debate was still in full swing and there was a pivotal moment after the islanders voted, they had no option to amend their vote. They are being treated as second-class citizens when it comes to casting their vote, which they will have cast before the debate is complete. There are many other examples, including litir um thoghchán where many of the islanders will tell one time and time again that they receive those after they have cast their vote because candidates, political parties and An Post schedule them right throughout the debate up to polling day. For many of those people, polling day has happened at an earlier stage.

This is out of date and should have been got rid of a long time ago but as we approach the centenary of 1916, that time when those before us proclaimed the Irish Republic and the right of individuals or citizens to be involved in shaping and defining that republic, it is important that we allow our island communities to play their full role and stop treating them as second-class citizens. I do not see any valid reason in this day and age that there should be a differential in respect of polling dates on our islands compared to our mainland.

It is an opportune time to say that the postal vote window has been extended for referenda and local elections. I also agree that it is short for Dáil elections but this must be so given the tight timeframe between the calling of the election and the return of the postal ballots. It is not about trying to punish people who want to vote on the same day. We are trying to get a local solution to a local problem. This is based on severe weather conditions and gives the returning officer the flexibility in those conditions. As people can see, we had extreme weather conditions in Ireland during the past two days. This is about giving the returning officer flexibility and not about trying to punish anybody. It is about leaving them room to be able to make that call. As I said, the overriding situation is to have the ballot box for the count at 9 a.m. the following day. It is a matter of erring on the side of caution because there would probably be much argument here and in the constituencies if the ballot boxes were not there to be counted. We are erring on the side of caution and, therefore, we are not accepting the amendment.

I have heard many arguments or counter arguments from Ministers and that is one of the weakest I have heard in a long time. Regardless of the Government's intention, the feeling among the island communities is that they are being treated as second-class citizens. Can the Minister of State respond to the points I have made, which I have made on a number of occasions here, about the postal vote and how postal votes interact with the fact that the Government allows the returning officers to set a different timeframe? The Minister of State must acknowledge that after the last election, it was nearly a week after the date of designation for polling day that the returning officers designated the date for some of the islands because they have different returning officers. I was engaged in futile correspondence at that time, trying to get them to designate the date.

Let us put this on the record. Is the Minister of State aware that the Government is potentially facilitating an unconstitutional practice which has the end result of denying Irish citizens the right to vote in referenda and Dáil, European and local elections because the polling date is not designated in an appropriate time that allows those who want to avail, as is their right, of a postal vote through the different mechanisms that are available under statute?

Unfortunately, the Minister of State has avoided the issue in this debate, namely, that it is always possible to get whatever one needs in and out from the islands. Some 99% of the time, it is done with regular services but is the Minister of State telling me that if somebody on one of the islands had a medical emergency, for example, if a woman had a maternity emergency, they would not be able to get to her? Of course not. We know we have gone way beyond that. Therefore, the idea that it is impossible to get them in is a fallacy.

Is the Minister of State accusing the returning officer in Cork of being reckless because, as I have said, Arranmore in Deputy Pearse Doherty's constituency is far easier to get to?

In the average month, summer and winter, there are over 400 sailings to Arranmore. That is seven or eight return sailings a day. The only reason there are not more is that there is no demand for more. Most people do not enjoy that kind of a bus service. The Minister of State would have to go back a long way to find a day when the ferry did not get in and out of Arranmore Island. If we are talking about that kind of oíche na gaoithe mór weather there will be no voting in most of the country if it blows that hard. If the snow came heavy enough the boxes will not come in from Wicklow. In these catastrophic situations the Minister of State will be worried about a lot more than island boats.

I believe we have a very responsible returning officer in Cork who has looked at this and has said this is not a risk. It seems, however, that this is giving discretion for uneven behaviour and the date will depend on the lottery effect of which county one happens to live in. If the Minister of State really believed what she is telling me she would have set an objective test for the returning officers which would find that voting on the same day is possible. Certainly two days ahead, as happens in Donegal, even on Arranmore for some reason and Inishbiggle, is ridiculous, as the Cork experience proves where nothing has ever been held up.

I hope the Minister of State will at least reflect further on this matter and when it goes to the Seanad bring in an amendment to deal with this issue, to ensure that the islanders vote on the same day as the rest of the country and that on the off chance of incredibly bad weather, fíor droch stoirm, she will make the resources of the State available. Does she think that we, as representatives of the islands, would live with a situation that an emergency case cannot be got off the islands any time of the day or night and in any type of weather, where a person’s life is at stake, not when it is a question of a few votes being late? Emergency cases always get off. People would often be safer being on an island because they have such good services than they would be in more remote parts of the mainland, such as the place where I live.

It is a spurious argument. There is no basis to it. The Minister of State has been advised not to concede but she is the Minister of State. She is the person who has to justify to the public, as will her colleagues, how, on the one hand, they can tell us that a sick person can be taken off the island in all weathers, times and days but on the other hand, they cannot get a few boxes off an island at all times, all weathers and days. It is not logical. How anybody believes it takes two days to get them off baffles me even more. I feel very strongly about this and I hope when there is a change of Government that we will have an opportunity to put a serious wrong to right and this issue will be dealt with, given that in the last Government we put in the infrastructure to ensure this is no longer needed as an electoral provision.

There are four separate constituencies involved, with each returning officer making the call in his or her constituency. I take the point about the postal vote window and I will speak to the returning officers about the designation of the island polling date. I advise both Deputies to engage with their returning officers and try to convince them of what they want to do.

I cannot. I know because I tried when I was a Minister.

I think the Deputy can. I am not saying any more about this. The Deputy was in government for 15 years and surely if it was such an important issue for people on the islands he could have done something about it in that time.

That is right. We did. We provided-----

I wish the Deputy good luck and perhaps when he returns as Minister for the Environment he will make the appropriate-----

I will, yes, absolutely.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 32; Níl, 72.

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Keaveney, Colm.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • Mathews, Peter.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Níl

  • Barry, Tom.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Collins, Áine.
  • Conaghan, Michael.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Connaughton, Paul J.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • Lyons, John.
  • McCarthy, Michael.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Nolan, Derek.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • Phelan, Ann.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Spring, Arthur.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • Wall, Jack.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Éamon Ó Cuív and Dara Calleary; Níl, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg.
Amendment declared lost.
Bill received for final consideration and passed.