Calls to give Irish citizens resident in Northern Ireland a vote in future Irish presidential elections have been challenged by the Alliance Party.
The Convention on the Constitution in Malahide, north Dublin, voted overwhelmingly in favour of allowing Irish citizens living outside the state – including those in Northern Ireland – to cast a ballot in presidential elections.
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said: “The issue of voting rights in presidential elections for citizens living in the north and those living abroad is an important one for all democrats, but particularly for citizens in the north.”
But Stewart Dickson MLA, who represented Alliance at the convention, said: “While it is a matter for the Irish government and the Oireachtas to determine the franchise for Irish elections, to unilaterally extend the franchise to residents of Northern Ireland would constitute a significant shift in the balance of the [1998 Belfast] Agreement.”
That agreement “did not create joint authority or sovereignty”, he said.
SDLP justice spokesperson Alban Maginness, who attended the convention, said his party was “supportive of the proposal to extend the opportunity for people in the north to participate in the presidential elections”.