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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‘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…’
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.
‘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.’
‘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…’
‘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…’
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.
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.]
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.
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.”