Why I was forced to pay €950 to vote today

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May 31, 2012 by David Miller

Well, to be clear, I spent it last year when I paid the final €950 fee to the Irish Nationality & Immigration Service (INIS) for the pleasure of them sending me a crumpled certificate in the post for my Irish citizenship last autumn (after a roughly 2 year process). (As an aside, I still feel that they could have splashed out a little and used one of those hard-back ‘Please Do Not Bend’ envelopes; the crumpled effect is a little last year). This post describes the journey for me to Irish Citizenship.

But: importantly (for me), it meant that today’s vote on the Treaty on Stability, Cooperation and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union was the first time I was able to exercise my right to vote in a constitutional referendum. It might not seem like much to people who’ve had that right all their lives – and who, understandably, are sick of Trick-or-Treaty constitutional referenda popping up every few years – but believe you me it actually is part of what brings us together as a society, the ability to exercise our democratic rights.

Speaking of the ‘Treaty on Stability, Cooperation and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union’ – I confess I wondered what the reception would have been like if the title of the government website had been http://www.cooperationtreaty.ie or indeed http://www.governancetreaty.ie rather than the http://www.stabilitytreaty.ie.

Because while today’s treaty was about stability it was also very much about ‘cooperation’ and ‘governance’; and I wonder how the lack of emphasis on the 2nd and 3rd parts of the Treaty’s title may in the future come back to haunt us.

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Anyhows: whichever way you voted – or spoiled your ballot, which is just as legitimate as form of registration of your view – give yourself a pat on the back, because we should never take that right for granted, no matter the state of the health of our country here in Ireland.

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