Votes for the diaspora: A pointless distraction

NOTHING has changed since the phrase ‘no taxation without representation’ was, apparently, coined by American lawyer James Otis in the 1760s, who wanted to end British colonisation of his nascent country, to undermine its core truth.

Its opposite — no representation without taxation — seems as rational, and a trustworthy guide in how public affairs might be ordered.

That linking of representation to tax might not appeal to the near 50% of people in work in Ireland but who pay no income tax, however, in the context of voting rights to Irish citizens abroad, it seems a valid line in the sand. 

Why should Irish people in Perth or Paris have a vote in our elections?

They will not have to face the consequences. We would and that is surely the essence of participatory democracy. Why should Irish-Americans vote, say, on our EU membership?

The logic behind the proposal seems based on a kind of misplaced sentiment, rather than a hope to strengthen our democracy. It is a kind of franchise-by-Skype silliness that might sustain a near-dead conversation until something better occurs. 

Today’s proposals confine that possibility to presidential elections, but that is a tad dishonest — if the facility is offered in one vote, how can it be denied in another? 

Government faces many challenges, some at crisis level. Have they really nothing better to do than indulge and encourage this kind of pointless, unnecessary distraction?


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