Seán Kyne, Government Chief Whip and Minister for the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands has today (Tuesday) confirmed Government approval for legislation which will ensure island communities vote in elections and referendums on the same day as the rest of the country.
Minister Kyne was speaking following the Cabinet meeting at which approval was given for the Electoral (Amendment) No. 3 Bill 2014 to proceed. Approval, by way of a ‘money message’, was required given the Government’s constitutional obligations regarding the impact of legislation on the State’s finances.
Commented Minister Kyne: “I welcome the Government’s decision today which will enable this electoral legislation to proceed to Committee Stage.
“The legislation will amend the electoral laws to enable island residents to participate in elections on the same day as the rest of the country. Introduced by Deputy Eamon Ó Cuiv, the legislation can now be strengthened at Committee Stage so that it will apply to European and Local Elections as well as general and presidential elections and referendums. It will also ensure a common-sense flexibility regarding polling hours on islands so as to avoid delays to elections counts.
“An analysis of previous polling times and dates for elections and referendums shows that counties with islands have adopted different approaches with most counties, including Galway, Mayo and Donegal, holding voting between one and three days prior to the rest of the country. Cork, however, has held same-day voting for islands in elections over the last two decades. With improved transport services to and from our islands in recent years, same-day voting is more practical and should be introduced.
“I commend my colleague the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy TD, for bringing this issue to Cabinet and also Deputy Ó Cuiv for introducing the Bill. The passage of private members’ legislation, such as this Bill, is one of the clearest examples of Dáil reform in action.”