Ian O'Doherty

Tuesday 29 July 2014

They can have the vote – when they live here

Published 02/10/2013|04:00

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Girl power: Chelsea's Fernando Torres and Spurs' Jan Vertonghen clash

Like many people in their 20s, most of my brother's mates have emigrated. Few of them have any plans of returning soon, if ever.

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It's a perfect example of the social fracturing we have seen all over Ireland, and it's particularly notable in more rural areas where there are fewer young people to begin with.

He admits that some of his friends were angry at being forced to leave. But the smart ones have all made a better life for themselves in places like America and Australia and have no interest in the tomfoolery and tokenism that passes for politics back home.

I wonder how many of my brother's friends will have woken up yesterday, before they start their next 18-hour shift working in the mines of Western Australia, and punched the air with delight at the news that a bunch of talking heads think they should be allowed to vote in Ireland's Presidential elections.

That great wind farm of witless blathering, the Constitutional Convention, gathered last weekend and decided that they were going to recommend that Irish emigrants should be given a say in who will be our next Doofus-in-Chief.

But it wasn't just a bunch of the usual corduroy consultants and professional worthies who took part, oh no.

Because according to the Constitutional Convention's Big Kahuna, Tom Arnold, they consulted with people living abroad "where we used new technologies to gather a broad range of views".

Well, it's nice to know that Uncle Tom has access to these fancy 'new technologies' (Morse Code? The Mojo Wire?) he speaks of, but nobody seemed to have asked the question – why would they bother?

Apart from the obvious fact that young people living abroad are unlikely to show any greater enthusiasm for electing a President than the kids who stayed at home, the simple fact is that once you have left the country, you have left behind certain rights and certain obligations.

And given that voting is the most precious right and obligation we have, it seems only fair to restrict that privilege to those who actually live here.

I have no doubt that when the convention gathered and pronounced that emigrants and even people in Northern Ireland should be entitled to vote, they all felt rather good about themselves. In fact, I'd even place a wager of 10 of your earth Euros that at least one of them wrote some God-awful poem about it.

But when you're off the team, you're off the team.

Things took a turn for the even more chronically asinine when they proposed that it shouldn't even matter how long you have lived abroad, you should still be just as entitled to have a say as someone who lives and – crucially – pays taxes in this territory. No. You don't.

If anything, it's the incredible arrogance of such a convention – forget about the kind of emigrants who engaged in these fancy new technologies to make their voice heard (the kind people who shouldn't be allowed next nor near a polling booth, regardless of where they live) that is worthy of admiration.

Let's put it this way, a reader from New Jersey once got in touch with this column and over the years we became friends.

John Carrig left Ireland as a kid and is, shall we say, a gentleman of mature years who has maintained a keen eye on Ireland ever since he left this island.

I reckon when John woke up this morning the only President on his mind was Obama and what he was going to do about yesterday's shutdown, a genuine crisis that has an immediate effect on everybody living there – as it will for us if it's not solved soon.

He sure as hell wasn't been thinking happy thoughts because a gathering of mediocrities reckon he should be given a say in who is elected in another country.

And no amount of fancy new technology will change that.

DOESN'T HE KNOW THAT IT'S DIFFERENT FOR GIRLS?

The easiest way to become a highly paid TV pundit in England seems to simply have Liverpool on your CV.

But Robbie Fowler found himself rightly handbagged when he appeared on the BBC's Final Score show at the weekend and said that Fernando Torres and Jan Vertonghen "were at each other's throats all game, like a couple of girls."

A visibly chastened Fowler was then forced to apologise and say: "To anyone who was offended at home, I am sorry."

Yeah, yeah – that's all very well and good. But what about all the people who are offended at the sight of yet another former bloody Liverpool player being allowed on to the telly to spout their insidious Scouse propaganda?

Something should be done, bloody disgrace etc.

YOU HAVE THE FREEDOM TO DO AS YOU'RE TOLD

So, Irish universities are talking about banning smoking on their campuses.

This will "encourage students and staff" to think about their smoking, and further endorsement comes with the fact that: "This is already standard practice on American campuses."

Are they sure that's such a good idea?

After all, American campuses are the petri dish that spewed political correctness and has seen a rise in liberal orthodoxy to the degree that even memorials to 9/11 have been removed on some campuses in case they are "offensive" to other students and there are numerous infamous incidents of students and staff having been expelled for expressing anything that might be construed as racist, sexist or insulting – no matter how harmless.

Having said that, from the experiences I've had with numerous Irish lecturers, I reckon they'd quite like that idea...

Irish Independent

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