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Ireland, Dual Citizenship, and the emigrant vote. Patrick O’Sullivan Yerevan, Armenia June 2006 . Map of British Isles. Images and Stereotypes.

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Ireland, Dual Citizenship, and the emigrant vote

Patrick O’Sullivan

Yerevan, Armenia

June 2006



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Images and Stereotypes

  • ‘England has been left in possession not only of the Soil of Ireland with all that grows and lives thereon, to her own use, but in possession of the world’s ear also. She may pour into it what tale she will: and all mankind will believe her…’

  • John Mitchel, 1854


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Demographic History of Ireland

  • Population of the island of Ireland…

  • 1841… 8,178,000

  • 1851… 6,555,000

  • 1901…4,459, 000

  • 1961…4,243,000

  • [RofI 2818000; NI 1425000]

  • 2001/2002… 5,602,000

  • [RofI 3,917,000; NI 1,685,000]


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Irish Constitutional Tradition 1

  • Irish Home Rule Act, September 1914

  • Easter 1916, Rebellion and proclamation of republic

  • 1920Government of Ireland Act created the Northern Ireland statelet, 6 counties

  • 1921 The Anglo-Irish Treaty established an Irish dominion within the British Empire known as the Irish Free State


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Easter 1916

  • ‘…Too long a sacrificeCan make a stone of the heart.O when may it suffice?...

  • Khachig Tololyan

  • ‘Easter 1916’: ‘…the most Armenian of William Butler Yeats’ poems…’

  • Irish Civil War, 1922-23

  • ‘pragmatists’ and ‘irreconcilables’

  • Origins of the 2 main Irish political parties…


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Irish Constitutional Tradition 2Constitution of 1937

  • Article 2 [Territory]The national territory consists of the whole island of Ireland, its islands and the territorial seas.

  • Article 3 [Extent of Application of Laws]Pending the re-integration of the national territory, and without prejudice to the right of Parliament and Government established by this Constitution to exercise jurisdiction over the whole of that territory, the laws enacted by that Parliament shall have the like area and extent of application as the laws of Ireland and the like extra-territorial effect.


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De Valera’s Vision

  • ‘The Ireland which we have dreamed of would be the home of a people who valued material wealth only as the basis of a right living, of a people who were satisfied with frugal comfort and devoted their leisure to the things of the spirit; a land whose countryside would be bright with cozy homesteads, whose fields and villages would be joyous with the sounds of industry, with the romping of sturdy children, the contests of athletic youths, the laughter of comely maidens; whose firesides would be forums for the wisdom of old age. It would, in a word, be the home of a people living the life that God desires men should live.’

  • Eamon de Valera 1943


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Myths of the Irish Diaspora 1

  • ‘It has been suggested that as many as 70 million people throughout the world can claim Irish descent. The existence of this vast extended Irish family creates an immense reservoir of goodwill towards Ireland and is one of our most important assets as a nation…’


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Myths of the Irish Diaspora 2The Irish in USA

  • ‘In the United States the 1980 census had recorded a figure of 44 million Americans claiming Irish ancestry. But in fact the active Irish American community was much smaller. At its core were 200,000 Irish-born residents, just over half of whom resided in five key metropolitan areas: Boston, Chicago, San Francisco-Oakland, Washington, D.C. and vicinity, and New York City-Long Island…’


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The Irish in Britain

  • Census 1911… 550,000 born in Ireland

  • Census 1931… 505,000 born in Ireland

  • Census 2001… 750,000 born in Ireland

  • BUT only 624,000 identified selves as ‘Irish’


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Irish citizens outside Ireland

  • 12.3 Among the tens of millions who can claim Irish descent, there is a much smaller but still very significant number of Irish citizens…

  • 12.4 It is estimated that there may be almost three million Irish citizens living outside Ireland. Of that total, around two million are in Britain, half a million in the US, sizeable numbers in Australia (213,000), Canada (74,000), New Zealand (38,000), EU countries other than Britain (36,000) and South Africa (35,000), and a scattering of some thousands in other countries. About 1.2 million of the total number of our citizens abroad were born in Ireland.


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The Nineteenth Amendment

  • Nineteenth Amendment of the Constitution Act, 1998[Allowed the State to consent to be bound by the British-Irish Agreement done at Belfast on 10 April 1998 and provided that certain further amendments to the Constitution, notably to Articles 2 and 3, would come into effect when that agreement entered into force.]


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Irish Constitutional Tradition 3

  • Article 2

  • It is the entitlement and birthright of every person born in the island of Ireland, which includes its islands and seas, to be part of the Irish Nation. That is also the entitlement of all persons otherwise qualified in accordance with law to be citizens of Ireland. Furthermore, the Irish nation cherishes its special affinity with people of Irish ancestry living abroad who share its cultural identity and heritage.


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Independent Ireland and its emigrants

  • 1955

  • Commission on Emigration and other Population Problems, 1948-54, Reports, published 1955

  • 2002

  • IRELAND AND THE IRISH ABROAD

  • Report of the Task Force on Policy regarding Emigrants, published 2002


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Votes for Emigrants 1

  • ‘The TaskForce notes that, while the issue of votes for emigrants was raised by a small

  • number of people, there was no consensus on how best to address the issue…

  • ..In the circumstances, the TaskForce has not addressed the question of votes for emigrants.

  • However, it recommends that this issue be kept under review in the context of further

  • consideration of Constitutional reform…’


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Votes for Emigrants 2

  • The All Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution considered this matter and, in its Seventh Progress Report entitled ‘Parliament’, concluded that…

  • “The right to vote in Dáil elections should remain confined to citizens ordinarily resident in the State, and to such other classes of resident as are determined by law.

  • The Taoiseach, in nominating senators, should include among his or her nominees a person or persons with an awareness of emigrant issues.

  • For reasons similar to those set out in our discussion of Northern Ireland representation, the committee believes that the right to vote in presidential elections should not be extended to emigrants at the present time, nor should the right to vote in referendums be granted to emigrants.”


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Glór an Deoraí - Irish Emigrants Voice

  • 1988 Conference in London on

  • Alternatives to Irish Emigration

  • Established Glór an Deoraí

  • Later…

  • The Irish Emigrant Vote Campaign (USA)

  • Irish Votes Abroad (Australia)

  • All these organisations have disappeared…


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‘A bad Christmas present’

  • ‘It’s a bit like a bad Christmas present…

  • It’s not what you want…

  • It’s not something you’ll use…

  • But you still have to say thank you…’

  • Dave Reynolds

  • Organiser, Glor an Deorai, on the plan to allow emigrants to elect an Irish Senator…

  • March 17 1996


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