No southern representation without taxation?

Sam Smyth in the Irish Independent today, reviews past attempts to get Northern Irish representation in the Dail, each of which failed – even when Clann na Poblachta successfully ran its 1948 election campaign on the admission of Northern MPs to the Oireachtas. He wonders why Sinn Fein thinks it can get anywhere this time out: “It is not democracy as we know it”.

  • Henry94

    Making a fetish out of taxation as the basis for representation is absurd. Should the unemployed not have a vote? Of course they pay VAT in the state but so do I when I shop there.

    Only the Orange state ever tied to link taxation to voting rights in such a direct manner.

    Americans, for example living overseas vote in American elections.

    Citizenship is the basis of representation and taxation is based on the decisions of the citizens. Not the other way around.

  • Mick

    Slightly tangental to the constitutional issue, but David Goodhart’s essay on the UK’s ‘progressive dilemma’ may be worth a re-read in this context.

  • Hmm…

    I’m with Henry94 here on this one. The ‘No taxation without representation’ slogan doesn’t have any bearing on this question. All it means is that if you’re being taxed then you certainly ought to have representation. It doesn’t mean that only those who pay tax ought to have representation.

    I think it’s a perfectly good idea to have Northern representatives taking part in parliamentary deliberations in Dublin. Policy made there does have an impact on us up here (Irish and British citizens alike). Provided they only have speaking rights and don’t vote I don’t see the problem: no one could say that they were taking decisions and imposing burdens which they didn’t have to bear themselves.

    Establishing mechanisms like this need not be thought of as a way of smuggling the North into a United Ireland. A Northern Ireland whose citizens enjoyed representation in London and Dublin might be one that’s easier for all to share. Equally, in the event of a united Ireland coming about, why not make provision for Northern representatives to retain speaking rights in Westminster?

  • Ringo

    Citizenship is the basis of representation and taxation is based on the decisions of the citizens. Not the other way around.

    Are you suggesting that Irish-America should be granted speaking rights in the Oireachtas too?
    Or the London-Irish? Will the local Tory MP for some constituency with Irish citzens be granted rights? Lots of Irish citzens there too.

    Citzenship alone is not the basis for representation.

    This bird won’t fly.

  • Mike

    “Only the Orange state ever tied to link taxation to voting rights in such a direct manner.”

    Really Henry? Only 1922-1972 NI? Nowhere else in either at the same time (pre-1945 GB) or at any other time in history?

  • Ringo

    citzens ~= citizens

  • Hmm…

    Ringo:
    Irish Americans and the London Irish aren’t for the most part, citizens. While I’d be wary of giving non-resident citizens the vote becuase they’re not around to bear the burdens of government, the argument that citizens should retain a vote for a limited period after leaving the country has some merit. The emigration of the disgruntled arguably lets the political incumbents off the hook.

    Why should there not only be a vote for Irish citizens in the North, but also special Northern representation? Well, the British government recognises the right of the Dublin govt. to have a say in what goes on here. Wouldn’t it be a good idea for us to have representation in Dublin as well as London instead of allowing the two govts. to formulate policy together over our heads? Indeed, in this circumstance, don’t we have a right to such representation?

  • DCB

    Henry

    Pedantic point but IIRC American’s living abroad are still liable to US tax. They can get relief for taxes paid overseas, but they have to fully renounce their US citizenship to fully avail of the benefits of living in a tax haven.

  • stet

    non EU immigrants who come to the country have to pay tax but don’t get a vote

  • Ringo

    Why should there not only be a vote for Irish citizens in the North, but also special Northern representation?

    What make them entitled to representation? They live outside the bounadries of the state. To be blunt – they should get their own parliament up and running for the real benefit of their constituents, and not be showboating in another juristiction. It has nothing to do with governance and everything to do with symbolism.

    Well, the British government recognises the right of the Dublin govt. to have a say in what goes on here.

    The London government recognises the need, not the right. That’s the way politics works in the real world, but hasn’t sunk in up north just yet.

    Wouldn’t it be a good idea for us to have representation in Dublin as well as London instead of allowing the two govts. to formulate policy together over our heads?

    Frankly, I don’t think you should be given representation in London or Dublin, aside from intergovermental committees. Time to grow up an run your own affairs from Belfast. That of course would result in not being able to blame other for formulating policy together over our heads. Of course the issue of the London representation is for the British to decide.

    Indeed, in this circumstance, don’t we have a right to such representation?

    I don’t think I’m alone in being well bored with this ‘we have rights stuff’ that pours out of the north. You don’t have the right to anything if you are incapable of living in peace with your neighbours as far as I’m concerned. Both London and Dublin have bent over backwards over the past decade to provide a suitable environment for the people of the north to sort themselves out – they owe you nothing.

  • Hmm…

    Firstly, Northern representation in the Dail should be in addition to a devolved assembly in the North. Secondly, it should be about participating in parliamentary deliberation, not mere symbolism. Thirdly, as Irish/British citizens, the people of Northern Ireland have rights with respect to these governments, rights which these governments haven’t always paid particularly close attention to. They’re not our fairy godmothers! (might be less boring if they were though…)

  • John East Belfast

    Henry 94, Hmm

    This whole proposal is nothing but symbolic – let’s be honest it is a crafty attempt to advance a UI with visual images of northerners appearing to be taking part in all Ireland parliament – essential to continue stoking the UI objective in case unionism runs away with stabilising NI within the UK in a post IRA environment.

    What you are proposing are NI elected reps going to a jurisdiction to engage in debate about issues pertinent to it. They aren’t just going to turn up and throw in their tuppence they will have to read breifing papers etc.

    ie where are they going to get the time ?
    They are paid to represent those people who reside within the fiscal jurisdiction of the six counties.

    If issues overlap then there are other avenues through which the northern assembly can engage with the Dail in common interest.

    Often many of the issues are competing – for instance would they go down and argue against further funding of the IDA because they know it competes with their own constituents interests represented by the INI ?
    A massive mid lothian type issue.

    The whole issue is daft and those trying to green Northern Ireland need to do much better than this.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    The comparison with the US is flawed, as US citizens abroad still are obliged to file federal tax returns. Germany is a better example, as it too allows an expat vote, however this vote is not large and its citizenship laws have not historically been generous. The UK allows the vote to recent emigrants only. An Irish expat vote on the other hand would simply swamp that of the residents.

  • Chris Gaskin

    Let’s not forget that a lot of people in the North pay taxes in the South.

    I work in the 26 counties and pay my taxes there but live 1 mile into the North.

    Why shouldn’t my MP be allowed to represent my interests in my national parliament?

  • Hmm…

    John East Belfast
    Yes, I agree that as it stands the proposal has an altogether too symbolic ring to it, but all those shenanigans aside, I’m still inclined to think that it’s not without merit.

    As for the IDA, well the logic here would suggest that NI reps couldn’t sacrifice their constituents but would have to seek compromise solutions, e.g. targetting border counties so that benefits might spill across the border. At the very least, I don’t see how it could increase competition for investment between NI and the South.

    Your point about time spent reading briefing papers etc. is a good one, but I think that it might take the edge of the midlothian objection. With limited resources of time etc. they’d probably have to restrict themselves to issues relating to their home jurisdiction rather than ‘meddling’ in other matters. Crucially, limiting participation to speaking rights really disposes of the heart of the mid (west?) lothian objection.

    I really do think that giving both British and Irish Northerners representation in both jurisdictions might have the effect of undermining the rationale of both of the ‘winner-takes-all’ options, leaving us with a stable ‘in-between’ arrangement. Admittedly this is just kite flying now 🙂

  • Ringo

    Why shouldn’t my MP be allowed to represent my interests in my national parliament?

    Because what you refer to as ‘your national parliament'(symbolism) is in fact, our state parliament(reality). Big difference.

    Move a mile south and you can get all the representation you want.

  • Chris Gaskin

    I am disappointed but not surprised by your partitionist mentality Ringo

  • Ringo

    You say it like it was something to be ashamed of, Chris! We’ve had two refereda in the past century supporting partition, and the majority in the state supported both.

  • Tadhgin

    I have always thought the best approach is to distinguish between the Nation and the State.

    The Dail and the Government clearly represent the State. The Senate and the President represent the Nation. This would allow Northern (and other Citizens living outside the State) to vote in Senate and Presidential elections – even if NI MP’s were made ex-offico senators. Reform of the senate probably should acompany a change, but need not.

    People living inside the state get to decide how to organise their affairs, just as those living within the Northern State will organise their own. Anybody so minded can see this as a first move towards some kind of federal Ireland.

    I can also envisage a significant number of unionists voting in a future Irish Presidential election, if only to skewer Gerry Adams.

  • Niall

    Correct me if I’m wrong…but doesn’t Bunreacht na hEireann mention that all Irish citizens are entitled to vote in Irish elections. I don’t think that it differentiated as to where they lived or their payment of taxes. Shurely, this should be highlighted by the great constitutional lawyer and leading civil rights campaigner Michael McDowell BCL, JCB, GBH

    If it mentioned that this might be impractical can I point out that after the fall of the Soviet Union the first election in Uzbeckistan accomadated the Uzbek diaspora. Shurely the internet proficient Irish wouldn’t be hindered in implementing the constitution of the land?!?! Shurely, the Min of the Enviro could get a few ol’ ballot boxes north to Crossmaglen or Free Derry Corner!??!

  • Jimmy_Sands

    Niall,

    You’re wrong.

    My view is that the right to vote should be confined to those who have to live with the consequences.

  • Niall

    *…Niall,
    You’re wrong.
    My view is that the right to vote should be confined to those who have to live with the consequences.
    Posted by: Jimmy_Sands at August 3, 2005 06:51 PM..*

    …and you back this by…? or are you just voicing your unsupported opinion? Well, if this is your opinion without any back-up then I could just as easily say that you are not a very handsome person. However, not having anything to support this is, I wouldn’t be so rude. Maybe you could be as mannerly.

    Living with the consequences…but don’t we all live in this ‘global econcomy’ with it’s world wide web and don’t all the world’s conflict effect the whole of mankind. Shouldn’t Irish citizens (regardless of residency) contrib to Irish society and elections as written in the constitution and similar to most other countries?

    Unless you can supply, I must search for the relevant section on Bunreacht na hEireann. I just wish I was living in the leafy avenues of D4 and then I’d be able to request constitutional consultation with my elected rep. I’m sure he’d be well aware of the importance of the constitution and how these laws shouldn’t be amended at a whim.

  • Niall

    ….isn’t it ironic that when the gov was trying to push the SEA thro they also sneaked in the Ninth Anmendment to the Constition in 1984 which extended the right to vote at Dail elections to certain non Irish nationals.

    Therefore some people who aren’t Irish are allowed vote in election but some Irish people aren’t able to vote. I guess this should be reviewed by the constitutional boffs ?!?!

  • Jimmy_Sands

    Niall,

    Sorry if I was unclear. The constitution ties voting to constituencies. There is no provision for an overseas vote. The 1984 amendment covered the granting of right to UK citizens equivalent to those enjoyed by Irish citizens in the UK.

  • Niall

    …let me preface by pointing out that I failed law in college but as stated in Bunreacht na hEireann Article 16 1.2*

    “All citizens and such other persons in State as determined by law without distinction of sex who have reached the age of eghteen years who are not disqualified by law and comply with the provisions of the law relating to the election of members of Dail Eireann, shall have the right to vote at an election for members of Dail Eireann”.

    Now Jimmy Sands, what were you try to point out to me about the government obligations to me as an Irish citizen and passport holder…!?!? Your wishful thinking doesn’t seem to be supported by the facts.

    Read it and weep.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    I don’t think it bears out your interpretation I’m afraid. More importantly, nor do the authorities, but by all means give it a try in 2007 and let us know how you get on.

  • Niall

    “I don’t think it bears out your interpretation I’m afraid. ” again you seem to be confusing your opinion with the facts as written in the constitution. Sorry, but the laws of the land should be based on Dev’s constitution and not the interpretation by either yourself and McDowell

    “…nor do the authorities…”… that be the crux of the issue as far as I’m concerned. The politicos already have the laws in place they just need to display the necessary will and spine to impliment them.

    “…but by all means give it a try in 2007 and let us know how you get on.”…such cynicism. I often do vote in Dail elections. This exercise was just to prove you wrong – easily enough in just my fifth posting.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    “Sorry, but the laws of the land should be based on Dev’s constitution and not the interpretation by either yourself and McDowell”

    Once again we disagree, but sadly the law is with you on this one.

  • Nathan

    I think it’s a perfectly good idea to have Northern representatives taking part in parliamentary deliberations in Dublin. Policy made there does have an impact on us up here (Irish and British citizens alike).

    Palace of Westminster MP’s will not be permitted to drive policy formulations in the Dail chamber, that is not what the all-party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution have in mind.

    The most that the Sinn Fein negotiating team can expect is for Palace of Westminister MP’s to be able to attend and speak (if invited) at debates restricted to Northern Ireland issues i.e. the ones related to the GFA alone. These sort of debates are only ever conducted on a periodic basis. So don’t kid yourself in thinking that there will be radical alterations to the standing orders, so as to allow these interlopers to occupy a regular slot in the Dail chamber.

    Sinn Fein MPs don’t need right of access to the Dail chamber in order to indulge in a leisurely visit to other parts of the building, however. So, in the meantime, they could always do what ex-TDs do best, and pay regular taster visits to Leinster Hse – so as to prepare for the day when the token concession outlined above becomes a reality. After all, when all is said and done, they, like parliamentarians from other jurisdictions, are permitted to use the car park, restaurant, bar and library in Leinster Hse – I know this falls short of what they’re looking but its still better for nothing.

  • Keith M

    Correct me if I’m wrong…but doesn’t Bunreacht na hEireann mention that all Irish citizens are entitled to vote in Irish elections. I don’t think that it differentiated as to where they lived or their payment of taxes.”

    You’re wrong, in that while all citizens are entitled to vote, this right is limited by law to those normally resident in the state. During the late 1990’s there was a campaign to allow emmigrants to vote, but it ran out of steam. If emmigrants (who were born and may have lived most of their lives in this country) cannot vote, it would obviously be wrong to allow those living in Northern Ireland to vote. This is an even less likely starter than having MPs speak in the Dail.

    As I said elsewhere, the Dail is not the place for elected representatives from Northern Ireland. Far more sensible would be for some provision in a newly reformed Senate.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    More sensible still would be scrapping the Seanad entirely. Unsuccessful Dail candidates should take the hint and obtain gainful employment instead.

  • Niall

    “…this right is limited by law to those normally resident in the state….”
    What law? There is no law as it would need a referendum to change the constitution. Get your facts right or get lost.

    “…During the late 1990’s there was a campaign to allow emmigrants to vote, but it ran out of steam….” run by the IIRM and it ran out of steam because the emmigration slowed. This however doesn’t change the legal issue and the present possiblity of those north of the border having the ability to vote for the Dail.

    “…If emmigrants (who were born and may have lived most of their lives in this country) cannot vote, it would obviously be wrong to allow those living in Northern Ireland to vote….”
    Two wrongs make a right?!?! I think not. Emmigrants should have the vote. If they don’t then it’s a disgrace that in this day and age when developing democracies like Uzbeckistan can accomdate that the pontificating Dail deputies are scared to impliment the constitution in relation to emmigrant votes. A different issue is for residents of the Sick Counties who according to the constitution are entitled to citizenship but have nowhere to cast their vote.

    According to the constitution these residents are entitled to citizenship (if born in the 32 counties) and the vote – I’d love to see some of the canvassing by Dail deputies

    “This is an even less likely starter than having MPs speak in the Dail.” possibly but it might fly if the Dail deputies were forced to wrap the green flag around themselves and vote to save their salaries. I can’t imagine the Irish Thames or Sindo will be taking up this cause any day soon.

    “..As I said elsewhere, the Dail is not the place for elected representatives from Northern Ireland…” I disagree, as noted above, it’s the law and should be implimented.

    “Far more sensible would be for some provision in a newly reformed Senate.” we finally agree to a certain degree (not an aim but a possible result). It would possibly be a proposed / watered down solution from the waffling Blueshirts and McDowell

  • Nathan

    “What law? There is no law as it would need a referendum to change the constitution. Get your facts right or get lost.”

    Allowing persons outside the jurisdiction to vote in the Dail elections is an International Law issue, I’d imagine. Any legal people out there who can shed some light on this?

  • Nathan

    Emmigrants should have the vote. If they don’t then it’s a disgrace that in this day and age when developing democracies like Uzbeckistan can accomdate that the pontificating Dail deputies are scared to impliment the constitution in relation to emmigrant votes.

    Some emigrants are privileged enough to have the vote in the Seanad elections – the only catch is that you have to be either graduates of Trinity or the National Uni of Ireland. Not much good if you’ve graduated from the likes of DCU. Or if your one of those long-time-gone emigrants who never went to school.

  • Niall

    “Allowing persons… I’d imagine. Any legal people out there who can shed some light on this?
    Posted by: Nathan at August 3, 2005 10:59 PM”

    “I’d imagine” FFS, smells of grasping at straws.

    …try as you might to support the disreputable legal system of NI and to make false assumptions of Bunreacht na hEireann. Here it is (studied most recently by Mandela’s post-apartied SA), read it and weep…

    http://193.178.1.117/attached_files/html%20files/Constitution%20of%20Ireland%20(Eng).htm

    Dev’s constitution which embodies a process called Constitutional Autochthony, that is, the assertion of legal nationalism. At various levels it contained key symbols to mark Irish republican independence from Britain.

  • maca

    Niall, chill, what’s with the attitude?

    Article 16
    2° i All citizens, and
    ii such other persons in the State as may be determined by law, … shall have the right to vote at an election for members of Dáil Éireann.

  • Nic

    This gets more tragi-comic all the time.

    Can you imagine Portugese elected representatives having the “right” to travel to Madrid for debates on Spanish law? Or Austrians heading to the Bundestag in Berlin to help sort out the vexed problems of modern Germany? Or Belgians heading over to gay Paree for the odd debate on French race laws or what have you? What about a Turkish citizen born and raised in say Poland who gets elected to local parliament there and that bestows the right to head for Istanbul to sort out the separation of church and state in Turkey? Here’s a good one -> Mexican and Canadian politicians on Capitol Hill in Washington debating gay marriage in the US.

    The notion is ridiculous. Simply ridiculous. A problem for every solution, indeed.

  • Tadhgin

    I have always thought the best approach is to distinguish between the Nation and the State.

    The Dail and the Government clearly represent the State. The Senate and the President represent the Nation. This would allow Northern (and other Citizens living outside the State) to vote in Senate and Presidential elections – even if NI MP’s were made ex-offico senators. Reform of the senate probably should acompany a change, but need not.

    People living inside the state get to decide how to organise their affairs, just as those living within the Northern State will organise their own. Anybody so minded can see this as a first move towards some kind of federal Ireland.

    I can also envisage a significant number of unionists voting in a future Irish Presidential election, if only to skewer Gerry Adams.

  • aonghus

    In the article above

    All citizens and such other persons in State as determined by law without distinction of sex who have reached the age of eighteen years who are not disqualified by law and comply with the provisions of the law relating to the election of members of Dail Eireann

    The Constitution sets out broad, general rights. In this case it is clearly specifying that the right to vote is controlled by a Law passed by the Oireachtas.

  • aonghus

    The relevant Law is here

  • Valenciano

    Niall: “Emmigrants should have the vote. If they don’t then it’s a disgrace that in this day and age when developing democracies like Uzbeckistan can accomdate that the pontificating Dail deputies are scared to impliment the constitution in relation to emmigrant votes.”

    They don’t do so for the simple reason that the emigrant vote would swamp the residents vote. Most countries these days do allow emigrants to vote but there are qualifications on that right, they normally have to have been previously registered in a constituency in the state and the right often expires after a certain number of years. Additionally there are often limits on which elections they can vote in.

    Uzbekistan a democracy?! you’ve not being following the news much this year have you Niall? It’s a poor analogy in any event, as the % of emigrants is not comparable, so you are not comparing like with like. A better one would be Israel which significantly DOES NOT allow emigrants to vote as far as I know.

  • Keith M

    Niall “There is no law as it would need a referendum to change the constitution. Get your facts right or get lost.”

    Niall, you asked people to correct you if you were wrong. You were wrong. Others have provided you with the evidence. I have my facts right, so I think an apology is in order.

  • abucs

    Many countries allow postal voting for their citizens who are not resident. I don’t think it’s an impossibility for Northern residents who are also Irish citizens to be included in some Irish voting process. I don’t see it happening anytime soon though.

  • Niall

    “Uzbekistan a democracy?! you’ve not being following the news much this year have you Niall? It’s a poor analogy in any event,Posted by: Valenciano at August 4, 2005 10:18 AM “

    V, try not to be as obvious in MIS QUOTING me as I said DEVELOPING DEMOCRACIES.

  • Niall

    “They don’t do so for the simple reason that the emigrant vote would swamp the residents vote. Most countries these days do allow emigrants to vote but there are qualifications on that right, they normally have to have been previously registered in a constituency in the state and the right often expires after a certain number of years. Additionally there are often limits on which elections they can vote in.
    Posted by: Valenciano at August 4, 2005 10:18 AM”

    …and therefore you’ve proved my point that there can be an emigrant vote or one from those resident north of the border. Thanks.

    Did I mention that the tens of millions who claim Irish descendancy should have a vote or did I mention emmigrants? Therefore swaping shouldn’t be an issue.

  • irishman

    Sam Smyth’s opposition says more about his own unionist prejudices than anything else. The fact that he penned the article suggests he is feeling unease that his cosy revisionist/ unionist outlook is being effectively challenged in the south.

  • Ringo

    revisionist/ unionist outlook is being effectively challenged in the south.

    Whats being challenged is this notion that northern republicans’ aspirations and modus operandi reflect in any way those of the people of this state. Sticking your foot in the door like some greased-up door-to-door salesman doesn’t mean you are welcome to come in.

  • Ringo

    V, try not to be as obvious in MIS QUOTING me as I said DEVELOPING DEMOCRACIES.

    Niall, any chance you’d have the good grace to admit you are talking through your hole?

    Uzbekistan is a developing democracy in the same way as a you are a developing legal expert.

  • Niall

    “The Constitution sets out broad, general rights. In this case it is clearly specifying that the right to vote is controlled by a Law passed by the Oireachtas.
    Posted by: aonghus at August 4, 2005 09:32 AM”
    Sorry but I disagree. Your highlighted wording points to restictions which don’t mention / imply the possible voters under discussion. Your later posting at 9.37am doesn’t show where there is a limit related to anyone living in NI or outside the country – as opposed to my exact posting {Article 16 1.2* at August 3, 2005 07:39 PM}
    Therefore you haven’t pointed out to me where emigrants and resident living in NI shouldn’t vote. Bunreacht na hEireann is the basis for the law of the land; don’t let this be mistaken for / dismissed as “broad, general rights”. It would supercede any fudged attempts you made at pointing out the legal restrictions against Irish citizens voting, I believe the Irish Gov has a legal obligation to allow voting for residents of NI and emigrants and I’ll now (thanks to this blog debate) be more determined that they fulfil their duties.

    “I have my facts right, so I think an apology is in order.
    Posted by: Keith M at August 4, 2005 10:35 AM”

    Sorry to take wind out of your sails; but you never stated any facts.

    You expressed unsupported opinion and then asked for supporting back-up (possibly supplied by ‘aonghus’) which I counter as having no clarity and superceded by the Constitution. You most certainly do not deserve an apology.

    An analogy: “I’m a handsome person. Can anyone support this claim as someone is being pedantic in asking for support.” Aonghus posts the website for Hello magazine and “says you are indeed handsome as you’re in this good-looking peoples magazine (find the relevant photo yourself)”. The photo, of course , can’t be found.

    “Niall, chill, what’s with the attitude?
    Posted by: maca at August 4, 2005 12:29 AM”

    Sorry if I came across in the incorrect manner, it was unintentional and I apologise if this upset you or others.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    No-one has addressed Smyth’s assertion that the TDs do not want this. If they don’t it can’t happen.

    SF invariably regard visit to Leinster House by its northern leadership as photo-ops in which selected Dail candidates are spurious inserted into the shot as “delegates” in order to enhance their profile. To suggest the FF backbenchers will assist them to do this seems fanciful. Turkeys do not vote for Christmas.

  • aonghus

    Niall wrote:

    I believe the Irish Gov has a legal obligation to allow voting for residents of NI and emigrants

    If this were true, someone would have taken (and won) a case in the supreme court a long time ago.
    The fact is that emigrants voting rights campaigns got nowhere because the constitution allows the Oireachtas to regulate voting rights, and they do. Have you looked at the 1992 Electoral Act which I provided a link to?

  • Niall

    “Niall, any chance you’d have the good grace to admit you are talking through your hole?
    Uzbekistan is a developing democracy in the same way as a you are a developing legal expert.
    Posted by: Ringo at August 4, 2005 02:54 PM”

    You may have a anal fetish which might be supported by your handle but please keep it to yourself. What’s the story with “ball not man” on this one?

    From your previous posts on different discussions I remember you are a supporter of that pathetic, failed entity, the Sick Counties, which is fast (and thankfully) coming to an end. I, of course, am not a legal expert but in discussion on all things NI, I don’t think legal expertise or basic understanding of human decency would ever come into discussion of the legal establishment of NI.
    Uzbekistan aspires to Western democracy and emulates the basic right of hearing it’s peoples voice (votes). This right which is enshrined in Bunreacht na hEireann, is of course not supported by Dail deputies. It’s also derided at by yourself a supporter of NI policies which in the recent past didn’t give one-man-one-vote to it’s residents.

  • Niall

    Aonghus,

    Just because it’s a right doesn;t mean anyone will take a case to court. Shouldn’t the Gov support our rights for a decent life and we know some people are living in the streets. Why doesn’t someone bring a case against this to the Supreme Court?

    from my posting ‘August 3, 2005 10:31 PM’ I thought I pointed out that the emigrant vote compaign came to nought due to decreasing population with Irels booming economy.

    Yes, I reviewed your link but didn’t find the restrcitions you implied should prevent the discussed citizens getting a vote – hence my Hello mag analogy. You weren;t as pin ponting as I was in pointing out the relevant Article etc

  • Niall

    Aonghus,

    Just because it’s a right doesn;t mean anyone will take a case to court. Shouldn’t the Gov support our rights for a decent life and we know some people are living in the streets. Why doesn’t someone bring a case against this to the Supreme Court?

    from my posting ‘August 3, 2005 10:31 PM’ I thought I pointed out that the emigrant vote compaign came to nought due to decreasing population with Irels booming economy.

    Yes, I reviewed your link but didn’t find the restrcitions you implied should prevent the discussed citizens getting a vote – hence my Hello mag analogy. You weren;t as pin pointing as I was in referencing the relevant Article etc

  • DerryTerry

    Folks, really enjoying the discussion and that of DUP shocker to boycott Dail. Whilst we all have our views regarding representation of Northerners in the Dail there’s no dismissing it as a live and growing issue.

    Just as worthwhile is the flushing out of all the paper Republicans. If Bertie, MmcD, Enda and everyone else are true Republicans then lets have a little more than talk lads.

  • Valenciano

    Niall, Aonghus’ post shows that constitutionally, the decision on who can and cannot vote is determined by (arbitrary) law as determined by the Dail. That law as it currently stands is that those outside cannot vote. Totally constitutional. Of course the Dail could change that at some future point, but can you really see them dashing to give the vote to those that don’t vote for their party? Self-interest means that that isn’t going to happen until SF manages to get a pivotal position in the South.

    As for swamping, well if what you say is true about the constitution and they do have to give the vote to external citizens then that applies to ALL external citizens, not just those born or resident in NI. The electorate of Rep of Ireland is about 2.9 million and there are about 3 million citizens living outside the country (1.2 million of them born in ROI) so yes I would call having an external electorate equal to or greater than the residents “swamping.” Can you name another country where 50% of the voters reside outside the country and 30% weren’t even born there?

    As for “Uzbekistan aspires to Western democracy” if jailing opposition leaders, holding rigged elections and murdering 300 peaceful protesters is your idea of apiring to western democracy then there is little further comment needed.

  • Ringo

    Niall

    Thanks for the confirmation re the whole ‘not a legal expert stuff’. Any chance you’d also admit that Uzbekistan was one of the worst examples on the planet you could have picked to make a point about democracy?

    Uzbekistan aspires to Western democracy

    How do you know? The Uzbek leadership has a very funny way of showing that it has any interest in western style democracy. Especially in recent months. And the Uzbek people, well, unfortunately they have about as much of a say in what goes on in their country as TD’s will grant northerners the Republic.

    So off your illustrious list of talents we’ll have to wipe ‘legal eagle’ and ‘geopolitical analyst’ – and I’ll think we will have to change ‘uncanny ability to see into the future’ to ‘groundless optimist’, based on your profound certainty that the pathetic, failed entity, the Sick Counties, [is] fast (and thankfully) coming to an end.

  • Ringo

    Just as worthwhile is the flushing out of all the paper Republicans. If Bertie, MmcD, Enda and everyone else are true Republicans then lets have a little more than talk lads.

    DT –
    but as your statement suggests, they are not republicans in the Gerry and the Peacemakers way – so won’t you just end up with talk?

  • Niall

    “Aonghus’ post shows that constitutionally, the decision on who can and cannot vote is determined by (arbitrary) law as determined by the Dail. That law as it currently stands is that those outside cannot vote. Totally constitutional.” Sorry but as I wrote to him …his posting shows there are laws in relation to voting but nothing in his link clarifies the discussion at hand. There isn’t anything in his posting that restricts people outside the 26 counties from voting. As the Constitution guarantee the vote to ALL CITIZENS, as maca posted at August 4, 2005 12:29 AM, this should be brought about by our constitution loving Min for Justice.

    “…but can you really see them dashing to give the vote to those that don’t vote for their party? Self-interest means that that isn’t going to happen until SF manages to get a pivotal position in the South.” We agree! I can’t see the Dail rushing to fulfill their obligations either as I posted August 3, 2005 10:31 PM and this was followed by Derry Terry recently.

    “As for swamping, well if what you say is true about the constitution and they do have to give the vote to external citizens then that applies to ALL external citizens, not just those born or resident in NI.’ Don’t blame I didn’t write the Constitution or vote at the time. “…there are about 3 million citizens living outside the country (1.2 million of them born in ROI)…” interesting data – where did you get this? I wouldn’t have thought that there were that many outside the 32 counties who’d be interested in voting / applying for ballot papers whereby it’d be a case of swamping. If there is to be a UI (much to Ringo’s annoyence) then won’t there be the electorate of the Sick Counties to accommadate. Shurely, the gov has a green paper in place for this ?!??!

    “Can you name another country where 50% of the voters reside outside the country and 30% weren’t even born there?” again an assumption I stated that anyone who claims Irish heiratage should be entitled to vote. Irel would be the 51st stae of the USA as there’s about 40 million who claim heiratage. All I’m saying is that the Constitution guarantee the right to citizens.

    “….jailing opposition leaders, holding rigged elections and murdering 300 peaceful protesters is your idea of apiring to western democracy then there is little further comment needed” I think you might have mis understood. I posted that “..after the fall of the Soviet Union the first election in Uzbeckistan accomadated the Uzbek diaspora…”August 3, 2005 05:55 PM. At no time did I point out that their’s is a leading light of democracy. I merely point out that a 3rd world counrty, that is having it’s first post USSR election, seeks to enfranchise it’s citizens. While Irel’s experianced parliament of 80 years hasn’t been able to accomadate those outside the 26 counties (the Sick Counties and abroad) and fulfill it’s duties in the Constitution. I hope your misunderstanding is cleared up and I concur that no comment is need regarding your mentioned internment, gerrymandering and Bloody Sunday type activities.

  • Niall

    Ringo,
    you make this all worthwile.

    “..Uzbekistan was one of the worst examples on the planet..” I see you have a serious case of the mis-quotes going for yourself. As pointed out in my most recent posting that is not what I was implying. However you seem to have come to an opinion and then seek to justify it by half truths and mis-quoting my postings. A simple mistake for one like yourself.

    “…we’ll have to wipe ‘legal eagle’ “ I seem to have asked a few legal questions and NOT got straight answers – not bad for someone who admits to being a novice at all this legal mumbo jumbo, if I say so myself. And your contribution has been….a surly, bitter, waste of time.

    “… ‘geopolitical analyst’ ….” Not if you’d read my posting correctly – I never spoke of the geo-political aspects of Uzbeck but their enthusiasm for it’s citizens first vote. Again, I ask that you read the meanings and not just the words – would you prefer pictures?

    “… and I’ll think we will have to change ‘uncanny ability to see into the future’ to ‘groundless optimist’, based on your profound certainty that the pathetic, failed entity, the Sick Counties, [is] fast (and thankfully) coming to an end….” I was just voicing my opinion. I’m allowed aren’t I ? It’s a free country or would you like to call the ‘thought-police’. Your comment that this opinion of mine is “groundless’ seems to show your hope that the ‘failed entity’ will remain. Roy Hattersley doesn’t think so and he’s probably closer to Westminster’s thinking than you are.

    Stick with the percussion and let John, Paul & George do the thinking – you were only there to be the butt of their jokes and to bang a drum .!??!

  • Alan Anderson

    I think a hightened protestant representation in Dail Éireann can only be possitive for the Island and as a whole Irish and British relation not alone does it show maturity of our nation being non sectarian anymore but a willingness to hear all views from all sides of society.

    Its a small Island why not work together to make it a much better place.

    Also from my knowledge southerners see NI protestants of some kind of almost alien race, due to NI politics mainly representation and a voice in the main part of Irelands parliment would maybe show our country people we are not quite as bad and much more united us than divides.

    If unionist politicians had any sense of life in the unionist ideals they would grasp this opertunity to further their political goals instead of looking inward all the time.

    thats why nationalisim is always seen as the rational voice in Ireland, unionisim is kept away from 4/5 of the population.

  • aonghus

    Niall,

    as I said before, the article from the constitution you posted states that the right to vote is governed by law. I posted a link to the current law. As the law currently stands, emigrants have no vote. That law can of course be changed, but there is no constitutional imperative to do so – the right to vote is not an absolute right. What about all citizens under 18? What about the mentally ill, who are also precluded from voting, what about…..

    The Oireachtas could change the law to give people in NI the right to vote, and may yet do so. But it is their right under the constitution to fix that law.

    As somebody who lived abroad for 10 years, I agree that emigrants, who are not subject to the laws of the state, should not have a vote in Dáil elections.

  • Valenciano

    Niall: “there are about 3 million citizens living outside the country (1.2 million of them born in ROI)…” interesting data – where did you get this? I wouldn’t have thought that there were that many outside the 32 counties who’d be interested in voting / applying for ballot papers whereby it’d be a case of swamping.”

    The figure comes from the migrationwatch website and is also the estimated figure from the Irish government themselves.

    http://foreignaffairs.gov.ie/Press_Releases/20040127/1422.htm

    So this figure has nothing to do with those claiming Irish heritage eg in the USA. You say that you can’t see that many registering. Why not? Even if only 20% of them did so that still heavily influences the election result especially in an STV election.

    Niall: >>“Can you name another country where 50% of the voters reside outside the country and 30% weren’t even born there?” again an assumption I stated that anyone who claims Irish heiratage should be entitled to vote. Irel would be the 51st stae of the USA as there’s about 40 million who claim heiratage.

    No I didn’t make that assumption at all in fact I didn’t even mention Irish Americans. The maths are easy enough if you give all 3million expats the right to vote then they make up 45% of an increased electorate. Not exactly advanced mathematics is it?

    So I’ll take it that you’re unable to name a country where the expat vote makes up 45% of the electorate. No worries.

    Aonghus is right and you’ve yet to make a convincing case why this should happen. Your argument seems to rest on the constitution and everyone here has pointed out that that document leaves it to the government of the day to decided who can and cannot vote.

    Put bluntly let’s say for example that I got an Irish passport, why should I have the right to decide the laws affecting a territory that I’ve never lived in, don’t pay tax in and have no links to other than a great great great grandparent born in Monaghan 160 years ago?!

  • J McConnell

    I was wondering when someone was going to bring up the Souths rather unique interpretation of representational democracy and exactly who can vote in elections.

    Elections in the Republic seem to be unique for a western country. If you could not physically present yourself at the designated polling booth in your registered constituency on the day of the election than you could not vote.

    Oh yeah, they did introduce “postal voting” recently. If you now go to your local police station and get that nice sergeant behind the desk to sign your ballot paper they will now allow you to make an absentee vote.

    How democratic. One needs the permission of the police to vote.

    So as a UK citizen who cannot physical present oneself at the polling station one can vote for up to 15 years in last constituency one registered in. As a US citizen one can vote in all US elections, no matter when one lives or how long one has been away. And every other western democracy I am aware of has postal voting and absentee ballots.

    And the voting rights of the almost one third of southern born citizen who cannot make it to the polling booth on election day, none what so ever.

    And that’s the way the people in the south like it. It keeps the clientist tribal politics working just nicely.

    Voting in the south has nothing to do with democracy. The political philosophy of the majority of the south, both TD’s and voters, is me-fein-ism. What’s in it for me. Each TD needs to know exactly which individual voters they have to buy off, and the voters want to make sure that the TD’s know exactly who they have to keep delivering the goodies to.

    And neither side want all those turn-coat feckers who had the temerity to leave the country (or move, or go to school outside their home constituency) to mess this up by being allowed to vote.

    My god you’d never know what would happen. Honest competent politicians rather than gombeens, gurriers and gobshites. TD’s who were’nt nothing more than gloried country councilors who could not wait to dip their snouts in the public treasury trough.

    Nah. Who would want that. A honest functioning democracy with competent politicans.

  • Keith M

    “I was wondering when someone was going to bring up the Souths rather unique interpretation of representational democracy and exactly who can vote in elections.”.

    The issue of voting rights hee is the result of a historical legacy. Irish citizenship is one of the easiest citizenships to obtain anywhere in the World. You don’t have to have ever been in the juristiction, all you need to have an Irish born grandparent or luive in Northern Ireland. Given the fact that over 1m people from this country emigrated between 1922 and 1962 and that all of their descendants are notionally entitled to Irish citizenship, and that there are over 1.5m people living in Northern Ireland, you have limit the entitlement of Irish citizens to vote.

    Personally, I think the current system is the fairest one imaginable and I’ve yet to hear of anything better being suggested, which is one of the reasons that things haven’t changed.

  • George

    J McConnell,

    “How democratic. One needs the permission of the police to vote.”

    Where did you get this gem? Then please tell me what are the PV1 and SV1 forms for and why are they sent to the local authority and not an Garda Siochana?

    Anyway, when you get forms stamped by the Gardai, such as driving licence forms or passport forms, it is a process of validation – the Irish state doesn’t abuse human rights by having compulsory id cards – not permission.

    I assume you understand the difference between validation and permisssion.

    Moving swiftly along to your gratuitous comment:

    “Voting in the south has nothing to do with democracy”

    Now that’s a humdinger.

    Are you saying that because you have to be in the country to vote, that the system isn’t democratic?

    Explain your logic. Why? What is your definition of democracy?

    Why is a political system in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who can elect people to represent them not a democracy in your view?

    You appear to be saying because it doesn’t allow a body of citizens it can’t represent to vote?

    Fascinating, and a first in democratic theory.

    Please elaborate on this ground-breaking theory of yours.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    George

    “Why is a political system in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who can elect people to represent them not a democracy in your view?”

    Strictly speaking of course, “representative democracy” is a contradiction in terms. What you’re describing is a republic, not a democracy. (Periclean Athens was a democracy.)

    Sorry George, of course your point is a sound one. Ignore me. Jesus, I’ve turned into Davros…

    But yes: on the subject of speaking rights for northern representatives in the south. Aside from straightforward partitionism (“Them nordies have no business down here” etc etc) I really can’t see what objection any non-unionist in Ireland could have. I mean, there’s no question of a West Lothian issue cropping up here unless they have voting rights, and no-one’s calling for that.

    Legislation would still be decided solely by the votes of TDs, who would still be elected solely from the Republic. Therefore there’s no question of sovereignty being infringed – northern representatives would ultimately have no standing in the decision-making process, only a right to speak in the preceding debate.

    Why should they be allowed to speak? Well, they are Irish citizens. They differ from the diaspora in that northerners aren’t citizens due to some former link with Ireland – their citizenship is a right of birth and northern representatives are elected by people resident in Ireland.

    There are all sorts of areas in which cross-border co-operation and all-Ireland thinking could be of tremendous benefit to people on both sides of the border. Areas like health provision, infrastructure planning, tourism, regional development, economic development and so on.

    We’re talking about things like motorway and railway provision for the northwest, for so long hampered by the existence of the border. Surely it could be of benefit for the MPs of Foyle, West Tyrone and Fermanagh/South Tyrone, and the TDs of Donegal NE, Donegal SW and Sligo Leitrim to be able to thrash these things out? To look at these issues in a cross border way?

    Or you take the fiasco of Omagh hospital. The decision to build the hospital in Enniskillen was swung by the “isolation” of about 10,000 people south of Lough Erne in Co Fermanagh. As though they lived on the edge of an island. Even though these people are within the radius of Sligo and Cavan Generals respectively, their “plight” led to Omagh hospital being closed, leaving 150,000 people in Co Tyrone without an acute hospital. These things work both ways: I once met a 98-year-old man in Fintown in the Donegal Gaeltacht. He had cancer and was put on a course of radiotherapy. (Why they’d put a 98-year-old on radiotherapy I don’t know, but there you go.) He had to make a 350-mile, ten hour round trip by bus to St Luke’s in Dublin for treatment three times a week. I don’t know if it was his age, the cancer of the journey that killed him but he died after a couple of months. All the while there was a radiotherapy centre at Altnagelvin in Derry, less than a hour away, that he didn’t have access to.

    See, this is the kind of insanity that results from a) having a border and b) having neighbours who don’t have effective means of communication. If speaking rights in the Dail can help alleviate situations like this, then who can be against it?

    And of course it would be of tremendous symbolic value.

  • Keith M

    “We’re talking about things like motorway and railway provision for the northwest, for so long hampered by the existence of the border.” Strictly speaking not true. Road development in the south lagged behind Northern Ireland, until recent years. This certainly wasn’t unique to boarder areas.

    “Surely it could be of benefit for the MPs of Foyle, West Tyrone and Fermanagh/South Tyrone, and the TDs of Donegal NE, Donegal SW and Sligo Leitrim to be able to thrash these things out? To look at these issues in a cross border way?”. This is why there is a council of the isles.

  • George

    The British-Irish Council is for the East-West dimension Keithm not the North-South one.

  • valenciano

    JMConnell: “Elections in the Republic seem to be unique for a western country……. every other western democracy I am aware of has postal voting and absentee ballots.”

    Greece and Malta don’t have absentee ballots, neither does the most comparable country (in terms of external citizens) Israel. Also all the other Western democracies have qualifications on which absentees can vote, normally they have to have been resident in the country to begin with and to have been on the electoral register and the right expires after a period of time.

    JMcC: “The political philosophy of the majority of the south, both TD’s and voters, is me-fein-ism. What’s in it for me.”

    And how precisely does this difer from voters in any other democratic country? You have obviously never heard of pork-barrel politics or the consumer model of voting behaviour.

    Billpilrgim other countries in comparable positions don’t allow MPs from another jurisdiction to come and speak in their parliaments – Romania, Germany, Hungary and Russia are just four examples.

    The argument against Northern MPs speaking in a debate is precisely the same as that against allowing any non-TD to speak. That it means less speaking time in the debate for those elected by the taxpayer.

    The cross border issues that you refer to can be better dealt with by cross border bodies.

    The other objection is that it is simply a photo oppurtunity for one party Sinn Fein and would give them a speaking role in the parliament which their vote in the 26 counties to date does not justify.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    “Strictly speaking not true. Road development in the south lagged behind Northern Ireland, until recent years. This certainly wasn’t unique to boarder areas.”

    You’re right regarding the disparity in road quality until recent years. However, if we want to talk about the present and future rather than the past, then the point holds up. Presently the Irish government is implementing a very ambitious national spatial strategy (I think that’s the right title?) which is seeing motorways being built from Dublin to all the major cities on the island except Derry. The reason why there’s no infrastructural development going to the northwest is the same as usual. (You guessed it.) Now, a staunch me feiner like Keith M, I’d say, couldn’t give a damn about Derry and in fairness, the cost to Dublin of not having a link to Derry is arguably fairly slight. But the lack of an M2 to upgrade the existing N2 is felt in places like Ashbourne, Ardee, Carrickmacross and Castleblayney, as well as Aughnacloy, Omagh and Strabane. In this way even people in Co Meath and northside Dublin feel the impact of the border. Let him into Leinster House and Mark Durkan could be fighting for the interests of people in Slane.

    Oh, and on the subject of railways. We know the Dublin-Derry railway was closed down as a result of the Stormont government closing the Clogher Valley railway in Co Tyrone in the 1950s, thereby severing part of the link and making the rest uneconomical. We also know that the Dublin government has sustained uneconomical lines from Dublin to Sligo, Westport, Killarney and Waterford. We also know the Limerick-Waterford line was kept open until only a couple of years ago, despite haemhorraging money for decades. Why? Politics. Economic factors didn’t close all those lines – so it’s probably fair to speculate that an all-Ireland parliament would have maintained the line between Ireland’s largest and fourth largest cities. Again had that happened you might well have Dart lines running up through Glasnevin and Ballymun. (Who knows, Ballymun might have been a posh suburb full of Dart accents by now?)

    But perhaps one of the real fears of the partitionists – despite all the cant about sovereignty and so on (how can Irish people infringe the sovereignty of an Irish republic?) – is that if northern representatives played a role in Dail Eireannn, it might become increasingly apparent that the interests of people in Tyrone and Meath, in Fermanagh and Sligo, are very similar indeed.

    “This is why there is a council of the isles.”

    George got in before me there. You made yourself look pretty foolish Keith. I’d have thought that you of all people would know what the role of the council is. (Besides, the council meets twice annually – that’s in no way an effective substitute for regular contact in the halls and on the floor of Dail Eireann.)

    Valenciano

    “other countries in comparable positions don’t allow MPs from another jurisdiction to come and speak in their parliaments – Romania, Germany, Hungary and Russia are just four examples.”

    Och g’way with your stupid bloody analogies and whataboutery. All I’ll say is this: the countries you name are not “in comparable positions” you mendacious oul hoor ye. The only comparable thing is that they have a border between them. Are you trying to say that the existence of a border the only substantive fact of political life between RoI and NI? (Clue: almost half the population of one explicitly identify with the other. The government of one has a internationally agreed role in the governance of the other. I could go on but I’m sure you know all this.)

    “The argument against Northern MPs speaking in a debate is precisely the same as that against allowing any non-TD to speak. That it means less speaking time in the debate for those elected by the taxpayer.”

    Surely this is a joke? Have you ever been to Dail Eireann? All I’ll say is, if the only objection is that valuable plenary time will be taken up and TDs from the Republic will be denied the opportunity to speak, then you can rest easy. I can assure you that the thing that concerns you is not a problem. After all, we’re talking about a parliament which awards itself the most generous holidays of any sovereign legislative assembly in the democratic world. We’re talking about a parliament which is often poorly attended (this is not a criticism – just a fact of the parliamentary culture that most of a TDs work is done elsewhere). We’re talking about a chamber which actually has too many seats anyway, so it’s not like the new guys would go a-setting in somebody’s chair.

    So please, don’t pretend that there’s a procedural objection. In simple procedural terms Dail Eireann could absorb 21 new members with no more bother than it would take to print 21 new members cards for the bar. (In fact, a good few of the Duppers wouldn’t want one anyway.)

    “The other objection is that it is simply a photo oppurtunity for one party Sinn Fein and would give them a speaking role in the parliament which their vote in the 26 counties to date does not justify.”
    So what? The fact that it would make Sinn Fein happy is not in itself a reason why it shouldn’t happen. I’d say I like Sinn Fein a lot less than you do but I don’t oppose every item on their agenda simply because it’s on their agenda. That would be, shall we say, a little emotional.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    “We’re talking about a chamber which actually has too many seats anyway, so it’s not like the new guys would go a-setting in somebody’s chair.”

    Just to clarify: I mean literally. There are about 200 seats in Dail Eireann for 166 TDs.