Irish citizens in Northern Ireland could lose EU vote

Ian Brennan

The chances of Irish citizens living in Northern Ireland being able to vote in European elections after Brexit have been given a setback.

Northern Ireland will lose their three current European Parliament seats after Brexit, with the Republic of Ireland gaining two extra seats in the process.

Sinn Féin has called for the two extra seats to be awarded to Northern Ireland, however, an internal government note has said that a series of obstacles lie in the way of the proposal.

“From a practical franchise perspective, there would be a number of challenges associated with such a proposal given our electoral laws, as they currently stand, do not provide for voting from outside of the State, except in very limited circumstances,” the note stated.

Treasurer of the Sinn Féin society in DCU, Cian Hade, spoke to The College View on the matter, saying: “In relation to the six counties, I think it’s an absolute disgrace, what came out there.”

Hade made the point that it has been a long-term goal for Sinn Féin to make it easier to vote so that more Irish citizens can have their say in elections.

“Anyone born in Northern Ireland is entitled to Irish citizenship and as such, as of now, an EU passport. Therefore, as EU citizens I think they should have the right to vote in the EU elections,” Hade also stated.

“I know it’s a particular issue for me as I lived in Belgium for a number of years and I know that if I had been an adult at the time, I would have lost my vote after 2 years and I would have had to travel home to Ireland to vote,” Hade said.

He is, however, well aware of the problems facing this proposal. “It’s going to be slow, legislation is always slow. Especially if it’s not coming from the government, because they’ve made no indication they are going to support such legislation.”

“If it is to come from a private members bill, the process will be very slow, very arduous. But I think that it’s absolutely imperative that it does get done,” said Hade.

The BCL Student says that it is imperative that the proposal goes through. “The fact that we could be stranding Irish citizens on our own island, with no say in the EU regulations that will govern them, I think that’s absolutely absurd.”

Ian Brennan

Image Credit: Alison Clair