Deputy Doherty said: “This decision is unfair and raises constitutional issues for those living on the islands. Residents of the islands, who are away on Polling Day and would have been able to get a postal vote, are now not in a position to do so as they were not informed of the Polling date. Many of them will now not be in a position to vote on the Treaty.
“Having spoken with residents of the islands, many of them feel very strongly on this issue. Some are saying that they will not vote in the referendum as a mark of the frustration and anger they feel. This type of decision only serves to isolate our small island communities even further.”
Deputy Doherty said that in the Presidential election last year, many of the residents of our offshore islands had cast their vote only to go home that evening and watch the key Frontline debate – a programme that changed how people voted.
Except that is for the islanders who had already voted.
Doherty continued: “This is an outdated policy and needs to be abolished. For instance, the ferry that travels to Arranmore island has operated every single day in the past year,so the argument that separate polling dates are needed, to ensure the polling box gets to the mainland in time, is a fallacy.
“I have already challenged the Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan, who is directly responsible for setting the polling date, as early as last year on this issue. Having separate polling days discriminates against our island communities and interferes with their right to cast an informed vote.
“The Minister should designate the 31st May as the polling day for our offshore islands.”