Tuigeann pobail ar Iarthar na re sceal na n-imirceach nios fearr na einne eile, go speisialta pobail Ghaeltachta. Ta an imirce mar chuid d'ar gcultur le cianta agus ta si inar nduchas chomh trean go gcreideann go leor againn nach feidir an oiread sin a dheanamh fuithi. Ni chreideann 'Glor an Deorai' sin.
Ma eirionn linn vota fha'il d'ar gcuid imirceach thar lear, cialloidh se go mbeidh ceist na himirce ar chlar achan toghchain agus rialtais a bheadh againn o seo amach. Bheadh nios mo speise ag ar ngaolta agus ar gcairde thar lear coinneail i dteagbhail leis an bhaile, rud a chinnteodh nach ligfeadh siad as a n-intinn e pilleadh abhaile le pairt a ghlacadh inar bpobail. Tugtar guth do na himircigh i bforbairt an tsaoil shoisialta, pholaitiuil agus eacnamdil mar is ceart doibh agus mar a thugann achan tir eile san Eoraip da gcuid saoranach.
Irish society has lived for generations with the belief that emigration is essential for economic growth. As a result, emigration has been and still is, an implicit assumption underlying all economic planning. In fact, a recent NESC report indicates that, as the Republic's economy is too weak to generate enough jobs to make any sizable impact on unemployment, mass emigration is the only solution.
Our society's attitude to emigration has been, up to now, to educate our young people so that when they leave our shores they can survive the tough reality of competing in the international jobs market. But "love them and let them leave" is not an adequate response. These young people emigrate not out of choice but out of necessity. Shouldn't they retain a right to participate in their country's progress?
Glor an Deorai asks that our emigrants be given a role in this
State. We suggest that this is best done - and many other European countries
agree - by giving them the right to vote in our Dail, presidential and
European elections and referenda.
Is feidir le vota d'ar gcuid imirceach dul chun tairbhe duinn uilig!
Liam O'Cuinneagdin, Nollaig 1993
As editors of the main Irish newspapers abroad, we, the undersigned, call upon the Irish Government to recognize the right of the Irish abroad to vote in Irish elections.
The Irish abroad, like those at home, have varying opinions on all issues. However, the one belief all Irish expatriates have in common, particularly those who have recently emigrated, is that the emigrant voice must continue to be heard. We believe that the Irish abroad contribute too much economically and culturally to their homeland to be denied that voice.
Every other country in Europe acknowledges some form of voting rights for their expatriates. Yet Ireland, which has embraced the European ideal more than most, still denies its citizens abroad a basic human, democratic and civil right - the right to vote in their own country.
We ask the Irish Government to look to the future in a progressive, intelligent manner and to realise the benefits of closer ties between the Irish abroad and those at home. We believe it is now time for the Irish Government to give emigrants a vote.
Donal Mooney, Irish Post, London
Damien Gaffney, Irish World, London
Niall O'Dowd, Irish Voice, New York
Tom Connolly, Irish Echo, New York
Billy Cantwell, Irish Echo, Sydney
"Acceptance of emigration as a natural feature of our national life is the ultimate in defeatism"
"In Irish political life, emigration is a guarantor of continuity"
During the 63-year period, 1926 to 1989, there were only 11 years in which Ireland did not suffer net emigration. The loss to the country in that period has been estimated at 1.127 million people, or nearly a third of the current population. Whether we regard it as exile or opportunity, the emigration of Irish men and women has had significant impact upon the social, economic and political life of the country.
That brief period, the 1970s, when it could be believed that the problem of emigration had been overcome, was followed by the recession-hit 1980s. By the end of that decade between 20,000 and 40,000 people were leaving the country annually. Recent projection work suggests that net emigration will continue to be a significant demographic factor until the end of the century, with the numbers leaving at between 15,000 and 30,000 per annum.
One effect of Irish emigration has been the disproportionately low number of young adults in the population. Between 1981 and 1986 the number of 15-24 year olds fell by 48,500 and they made up 68% of all migrants in that period. The continued loss of young adults in such numbers may well render accurate John Healy's dire prediction that by the century's end Ireland -will be a country of the very young and the very old.
The loss to Ireland is though, more than merely demographic, it is also economic. Apart from the investment lost in training and educating of young adults - in 1990, for example, nearly a quarter of those receiving higher degrees emigrated - there is the generalised loss of a component of the population vital in the building and consolidation of a developed economy. There is the stifling of initiative and entrepreneurship which is essential to economic development in the post-Fordist age.
Furthermore, the ubiquity of emigration, as either trickle or as flood amongst this age group creates a vicious cycle. The relative absence of this vital group feeds back into the perception of declining opportunity thus exacerbating the willingness of people to leave the country. In the short term, emigration may reduce or stabilize the jobless figures, but in the longer term it can result in a worsening of the overall opportunity for future economic development of the nation. Some of this loss is compensated for by the economic contribution of emigrants to the Irish economy in the form of remittances, which make up about 1% of national disposable income, 'ethnic' tourism, which contributes over 1.5% of GNP, and the inflow of savings to Ireland. Over 20% of Irish bank accounts are held by non-residents. Less easy to quantify is the impact of emigrant consumer choice on Irish exports. The impact of the emigrant loyalty to, or emigrant descent factor upon marketing and uptake of Irish products appears in Britain at least which is a major export market, to be a largely unknown quantity.
Emigrants' links with Ireland remain strong in other, perhaps less obvious,
ways. The huge growth in the popularity of Irish Studies in Britain and the
US in the last decade is a case in point, as is the enormous interest in Irish
culture and language, particularly amongst second generation Irish. The
vitality of emigrant culture and its impact upon the economic and political
future of Ireland, both internally and within the wider context of the
European Union are phenomena whose parameters have only begun to be explored.
Liam Greenslade Institute of Irish Studies University of Liverpool December 1993
1. The campaign by Irish emigrants for the right to vote in Irish elections is solidly based on principles of political fairness. For this reason the Irish Council for Civil Liberties unequivocally supports their campaign.
2. This question is not intractably contentious, for there is a broad consensus that emigrants should have the right to vote, a right to an effective voice, a real say in their own political culture. Voting by emigrants is desirable in principle and feasible in practice. Irish diplomats abroad already have the vote. All it requires is the party political will to introduce a bill granting Irish citizens abroad the right to vote in general, presidential and European elections. There is nothing written on the face of the Irish Constitution that fetters the Oireachtas's power to affirm the equal citizenship of emigrants by giving them the vote.
3. The subject involves deep and challenging questions about the way we value our own citizens, many of whom have been forced to emigrate but who unselfishly maintain an active interest in this country and preserve the dignity of cultural self-esteem while working as constructive citizens of the world. Granting them the vote would symbolize an end to a shabby record where purposeful political neglect of emigrant's interests and rights has been the norm.
4. This Government uses the rhetoric of inclusion, equality. and valuing differences; they oppose this exclusion, discrimination, and marginalisation which disadvantages minorities. This is self-evidently defensible. It is self-evident too that emigrants are a group who have been excluded, discriminated against, and marginalised. They too have a stake in the issues which are of concern to everyone in our political culture. They too make a contribution, financial and otherwise, to the nation's welfare which deserves reciprocal recognition.
They too can vote in a way that is sensitive to the requirements of the common good within and beyond our frontiers. They too belong, and are entitled to equal concern and respect as citizens. 5. In its treatment of its own emigrants, this country is out of line with international democratic practices in Europe. The campaign to enfranchise emigrants holds to account our democracy and the fundamental values that guide its course. This issue must be resolved. It will not go away. The crossroads of political choice will never look quite the same again; it is imperative that we take the direct route which affirms and formalizes in the vote the equal citizenship of emigrants.
Tom Cooney December 1993
"I heard recently on RTE Radio a discussion with a representative of your Organization Glor an Deorai in which it was suggested that Irish citizens living outside Ireland should be given the right to vote in certain elections. You may be interested in a resolution proposed and accepted at the Annual General Meeting of the National Conference of Priests of Ireland LNCPII last September."
"The NCPI asks the Government to give to Irish Citizens living outside Ireland the right to vote in national elections.' I hope this resolution will interest you and assure you of the support and interest of NCPI in your concern in this matter".
Rev. Michael Harrington National Secretary 31 October 1990
"Just a short note to lend our support to your call to extend the vote to our emigrant community. Many efforts have been made in the past to give a voice to the voiceless and the history of this whole issue is marked by broken promises. It is amazing that an issue which has the support of the majority of members in Dail Eireann has never been passed into law. However our emigrants are becoming more articulate and restless and the right to vote in national elections is pretty high on their agenda. I wish you well in your campaign. Be assured of my full support on this issue."
Rev. John Gavin 7 December 1993
"The President is elected by the direct vote of the people and represents them. This includes those Irish who are forced to leave Ireland in order to get employment."
Mary Robinson 11 September 1990
"The effects of Ireland's exceptionally high and volatile rate of net external emigration on the country's ability to reap the returns on its substantial investment in human capital may also have contributed to the relatively low rate of growth recorded since the second world war."
Professor Brendan Walsh CEPR Report 819 July 1993
"Granting the right to vote to emigrants is a positive step. Many Irish emigrants are highly successful abroad, the logical conclusion should be to tap into this success and give emigrants the chance to voice their views - the product of that experience - to make this country more successful. This might not solve the economic crisis, but it would link all Irish, both at home and abroad, providing the impetus for change that Ireland so badly needs. Giving emigrants the right to vote can only be a progressive step for the Irish nation. The Government must realise now, that we all have more to gain than to lose by including emigrants in all aspects of Irish life. All that is lacking is the political will to remedy this social injustice."
David Reynolds Glor an Deorai December 1993
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