Letter: Irish franchise

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The Independent Online
Sir: Alison Adburgham (letter, 8 December) asks why citizens of the Irish Republic are entitled to vote in British elections while they are resident in Britain. Under the Representation of the People Act 1983, those entitled to vote at parliamentary, European parliamentary and local government elections in the UK are British citizens, other Commonwealth citizens and citizens of the Republic of Ireland.

The present status of Irish citizens here goes back to the Ireland Act 1949, which declares that citizens of the republic are not to be treated as aliens. The percentage of Irish voters in British elections is approximately 2.3 per cent.

Incidentally, British citizens living in the Irish Republic (approximately 200,000) have had the right to vote in elections to the Dail (Irish parliament) since 1985. Approximately 144,000 are eligible to vote, which equates to 5 per cent of the overall voting population in the republic. It is to be noted that they have had no discernible effect on voting patterns.

Also, British citizens living in the republic are entitled to vote for a further 20 years in British elections after becoming non-resident. No Irish citizen, other than diplomats and their spouses, are allowed to vote in Irish elections after becoming non-resident.

Yours faithfully


Glor an Deorai: Irish

Emigrants' Voice

Brent Irish Centre

London, NW6

8 December