Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Presidential Voting) Bill 2014: First Stage

Tairgim:

Go gceadófar go dtabharfar isteach Bille dá ngairtear Acht chun an Bunreacht a leasú.

I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Constitution.

This Bill seeks to amend the Constitution to allow the voting age for presidential elections to be lowered to 16 years of age and to introduce votes in such elections for people in the North and for members of the Irish diaspora, as recommended by the Constitutional Convention.

Deputy Adams is on his feet. Members who are leaving the Chamber should go quietly.

There is an urgent need for a really inclusive democracy - based on equality - for citizens throughout Ireland and for those of people who have been forced to leave this country through no fault of their own. The diaspora is an important part of the Irish nation.

Tá timpeall 70 milliún saoránaigh ar fud an domhain a deir gur de fhréamhacha Éireannacha iad. Cé gur oileán beag muid, is náisiúin ollmhór muid atá scaipthe ar fud na n-ilchríche. Tá an ghéarchéim eacnamaíochta atá againn faoi láthair ag cur brú ar 240 duine imeacht ón Stát gach aon lá. Tá 400,000 duine imithe sna cúig bliana anuas. Is géarchéim í an eisimirce éigeantach, agus go dtí seo theip ar Rialtais i ndiaidh a chéile dul i ngleic leis an fhadhb seo.

Tá an t-am ann chun stop a chur le seo. Caithfear straitéisí agus polasaithe a chur i bhfeidhm a bhfuil ábalta an eisimirce a aisiompú. Chun sin a dhéanamh, creideann Sinn Féin go bhfuil straitéis diaspóra de dhíth. Creideann muid gur cóir vóta i dtoghchán uachtaránachta a thabhairt do na saoránaigh sin a bhfuil lonnaithe lasmuigh den Stát.

The current inequality of citizenship which punishes Irish citizens living outside the State must be ended. The Constitutional Convention took a significant step in the context of recognising equal rights for all Irish citizens by recommending voting rights in presidential elections for citizens living in the North and those Irish citizens living abroad. This was a significant contribution to both democratic reform and to reform of the system which obtains here-----

-----particularly in the context of citizens of the Six Counties who, since Partition, have been cut off from the national political life of the nation. It is time now to build on the contribution made by the Constitutional Convention and for the Oireachtas to play its part.

Sinn Féin urges the Government to accept this Bill and to make time available for its transition through the Houses of the Oireachtas, thereby triggering a referendum on an issue of huge importance for the Irish people across this island and overseas.

Is the Bill opposed?

Hear, hear. That was well done by the Minister of State, Deputy Kehoe. Very impressive.

I am not very impressed with the Deputy interrupting me.

I thank the Ceann Comhairle. What about Deputy O'Donovan? Where is he? The Deputy is always interrupting.

Cuireadh agus aontaíodh an cheist.
Question put and agreed to.

Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must be taken in Private Members' time.

Tairgim: "Go dtógfar an Bille in am Comhaltaí Príobháideacha."

I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

Cuireadh agus aontaíodh an cheist.
Question put and agreed to.