04-11-14 Senator Daly Speaks to the Seanad on matter of Irish Emigrants being given right to Vote in Irish Presidential Elections and on the growing Concern Relating to the Drug Crystal-Methamphetamine

Senator Daly: I agree with Senator Mooney in respect of RTE’s long wave 252 service and his request for a debate on the issue. I also agree with the comments made in respect of the right to vote being extended to members of the diaspora. I attended the meeting of the Constitutional Convention when the majority of those present agreed that the right to vote in presidential elections should be extended to these people. However, this is not enough. Granting Irish citizens abroad the right to vote in presidential elections would merely extend to them the lowest form of democratic expression. Of the 196 countries in the world, only nine which grant votes to the members of their diasporas confine the right to vote to presidential elections. All nine states in question have executive presidents who have powers similar to those enjoyed by the President of the United States. We must engage in more than tokenism and extend to the members of our diaspora the right to vote in Seanad elections. I welcome the legislation that has been brought forward by colleagues in this regard.

In the context of the diaspora and emigration reform, elections are being held in the United States and I wish all those running well. I refer, in particular, to the Boyle brothers, whose father is from Glencolumbkille in County Donegal. The older brother is running for Congress in today’s elections. The two men, Kevin and Brendan, served simultaneously in Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives, something which had never happened previously. I hope they will be elected to represent their district but that they will also represent the interests of Donegal and Ireland in the United States.

I hope emigration reform will be at the top of the agenda in the forthcoming period in the US. The President of the United States is supposed to bring forward an executive order regarding emigration because Congress has not acted in respect of this matter to date. I hope the order will facilitate humanitarian visas for the estimated 12 million undocumented citizens – of whom 50,000 are Irish – living in the United States. These people should be given the right to return to the US if they are obliged to travel home to be with family members in times of distress, illness or death.

Will the Leader consider organising a debate on crystal methamphetamine, which is also known as crystal meth? This cheap, nasty and highly-addictive drug has been available in the United States for many years and it is now coming our way. Crystal meth is going to replace heroin, cocaine and all the other illegal drugs available here.

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It is one of the worst drugs because most people who take it become instantly addicted and highly violent. In some instances, up to seven gardaí have been required to restrain individuals who have taken crystal meth and who have presented at accident and emergency departments.

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