Category: Archive

Echo Editorial: Neither early nor often

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Indeed, the day might already be upon us. But any sure and certain check would run into problems. Just what constitutes a fully functional democracy?
Such a question could prove embarrassing to Irish legislators if people from other lands, like Mexico for instance, chose to define fully functional as being the ability to vote in elections, not just from within the boundaries of the state, but also from other jurisdictions.
The dictum oft attributed to Edmund Burke, that for evil to triumph it only requires that good men do nothing, might be a bit of a stretch in this case.
The lack of voting rights for Irish immigrants in this country and others might not quite constitute a true evil, but it does speak of an appalling indifference to higher democratic ideals on the part of most, if not entirely all, Irish legislators and, sadly, many Irish citizens.
It is only a few years since it appeared that at least a limited extension of voting rights for Irish emigrants was in the bag. Fianna Fail, Ireland’s largest party backed the idea.
Then the floor fell out from under the issue and it turned into a matter of partisan debate between Irish political parties, most especially Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.
And while the debate began with the idea of extending broad-based rights to emigrants, it was quickly reduced to the notion that the much vaunted Irish Diaspora should be confined to electing three representatives to the Irish Senate.
That’s simply not good enough. The United States has no problem allowing its overseas citizens to vote and Mexico, with millions of its people living abroad, is now making a move in the same direction.
Ireland, an economic miracle of the age, can no longer justify the denial of a most fundamental right to those who hail from its shores, but who desire to take an interest in the Republic’s political life from what is mere geographic distance.

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