22 January 2004 Edition
A President for All campaign launched
BY ROISIN DE ROSArights in Presidential elections be extended to include the people who live in all of Ireland.
"That was four years ago. Still, the Dublin Government has done nothing about it. It is time they did."
The assertion of Irish citizenship rights in the amended Article 2 of the 1937 Constitution placed a special responsibility on the Irish government to ensure that the rights of all Irish citizens are vindicated. There is an obligation on the Irish government to ensure that full voting rights are afforded for citizens registered on the election lists in the Six Counties in referenda and presidential elections.
Obtaining voting rights for northerners in forthcoming Presidential elections is an important first step towards representation in Leinster House and the Seanad. If the franchise is extended in the forthcoming elections, the Presidential election campaign this coming autumn would be the first all-Ireland election since 1918.
Constitution to consider how the people of the Six Counties might play a 'more active part in national political life'," said Kerry Sinn Féin Councillor Toiréasa Ní Fhearaíosa, who proposed the motion.
"The Committee recognised in their recommendations that the most obvious, immediately inclusive area, would be in extending voting rights in Presidential elections to all Irish citizens living on the island of Ireland, in keeping with the spirit and letter of the Good Friday Agreement as contained in the amended Article 2 of the 1937 Constitution."
She called on the government to fulfil its promise and support extending voting rights.
Questions were raised all over the hall - When are we going to do this? Why are we only doing it now? How can it be of any interest to people in the country? Won't it exclude the unionists? Will Sinn Féin run a candidate? What about asking Mary McAleese to be our candidate? Wa central direction on all the work of young activists in Ógra over the coming months. It will enable young republicans to reach out to every young person throughout the country, in every village and townland, to involve them in framing the new Ireland. As former H-Block prisoner Jim McVeigh said at the meeting: "This will be the Ireland of future generations. We want young people engaged in discussing how it will look, how they want it to be."
And it's a campaign relying on the modern technology of the internet, where already you can sign the petition at www.apresidentforall.com. "The campaign starts now," said Mickey. "Go sign the petition and pass it round."