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Assembley Election

Tyrone councils back Irish Presidential vote

Vote ballot paper

All council areas covering Tyrone have now passed a motion calling for the right to vote in Irish Presidential elections.

The vote in favour of extending the right to vote for the Irish President at the meeting of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council on Tuesday night followed similar outcomes in the Derry and Strabane and Mid Ulster District councils.

Proposed by Sinn Feín councillor Marty McColgan and seconded by his party colleague Sean Clarke, the motion read, “This council supports the call to implement the Constitutional Convention to extend the franchise to include all Irish citizens, regardless of their place of residency, to vote in the next and all future Presidential Elections.”

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The motion was carried by 23 votes to 12, with support from Sinn Féin, the SDLP and independents Sorcha McAnespie and Josephine Deehan while it was opposed by the UUP and DUP.

Cllr Clarke told the Ulster Herald he was delighted with the outcome and accused the Irish government of “dragging its heels” on the issue.

“It is recommended in the Constitution that the people in the North and the Irish diaspora have the vote but clearly the Taoiseach Enda Kenny does not want to implement it,” he said. “That is a disgrace. The people of the North and the Irish who left these shores are part of the nation.”

However UUP councillor Chris Smyth accused those who brought the motion of “grandstanding” and being in breach of the Good Friday Agreement.

Cllr Smyth said, “I see it as ‘land-grab.’

“The whole point of the Good Friday Agreement was to say ‘hands-off’ unless the majority want Northern Ireland to be part of the south.

“Let’s park it at that. The President is a political role and among other things he dissolves the Dáil.

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“This motion is just to wind Unionists up.”

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