Pictured at Stormont today were: (L-R) Brendan Smith TD, Cian Bambrick, Senator Erin McGreehan and Senator Niall Blaney. (Credit - Kelvin Boyes)

Citizens in the North should be able to vote for president, say Ógra FF

SHARED Vote should not be viewed as threat to unionists insists senator

A local TD has leant his support to Ógra Fianna Fáil's campaign to allow people in the North vote in the presidential election.

The proposal to extend the franchise was launched by Ógra Fianna Fáil members and supported by Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party members Brendan Smith TD, Senator Erin McGreehan and Senator Niall Blaney at a photocall at Stormont, Belfast today, Monday, September 26.

Extending the Presidential franchise across the whole of Ireland would allow citizens in Northern Ireland to vote in presidential elections in the Republic. The next presidential election is in 2025.

At Stormont to support the proposal, Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith said: "Extending the franchise for future elections for the Office of President of Ireland - Uachtarán na hÉireann - is a small but meaningful acknowledgement of the need to be inclusive of both traditions, and none, on this island in constitutional change in the future.

"I welcome this initiative by Ógra and at all levels in politics we need to work ceaselessly and positively to derive maximum benefits from the Good Friday Agreement for people throughout all of Ireland."

Shared future

Commenting on the proposal, Donegal Senator Niall Blaney hoped the move would not alarm unionists.

"The offer of a vote to all on this Island in our future presidential elections, is one which unionists must not fear, but rather take it as an invite to embrace and involve themselves on such matters on a shared Island basis in a manner which in no way affects their constitutional status on this Island as enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement. I would hope that this is seen as an offer to build a shared future and one which leaves nobody behind, whatever their identity."

Ógra Fianna Fáíl Ulster Organiser, Cian Bambrick, who is championing this campaign, said: "As a young Irish person living in Ulster, I think it is only fair that everyone on this island has a say in who represents them in the Áras an Uachtarán.

"Internationally, most people don't make the distinction between people living north or south of the border. Why can we not have someone that represents everyone on this island as a whole?"