The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) has welcomed yesterday's approval by Dail Eireann of new legislation enabling prisoners to vote in forthcoming elections. The legislation comes after nearly three years of campaigning on the issue by IPRT.
In March 2004, in the case of Hirst v. The United Kingdom, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that denying prisoners the right to vote was in breach of Article 3 of Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This decision was upheld by the Court in October last year following an attempt by the British Government to have it overturned.
"We very much welcome the passage of this new legislation, and the Government's action to bring Irish electoral law into conformity with its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights," said IPRT Executive Director Rick Lines.
"We particularly welcome the support this proposal received from all parties in the Oireachtas. In many countries, prisoner voting rights is an issue manipulated for cynical political gain. We commend all the Government and Opposition parties for avoiding the low road in this debate, and for demonstrating a common commitment to ensuring full voting rights for all Irish citizens."
"The IPRT wil be monitoring the implementation of this new legislation in the coming months to ensure that it has its intended result of enabling imprisoned Irish citizens to exercise their franchise in the upcoming election," said Mr. Lines.