Roisin Morelli, a Belfast student, has unfortunately learned that her attempt to enfranchise Irish citizens in Northern Ireland in Irish referendums has been unsuccessful.
Ms. Morelli was trying to argue that, as Irish citizens living in Northern Ireland are able to avail of health services south of the border, any change to the Irish constitution would affect their healthcare and as such they ought be entitled to vote in the upcoming referendum.
The judge in question, Mr Justice Meenan, said that her arguments, in regard to her constitutional rights being breached by her inability to vote, fell "well short" of being tenable. He said that it was not under the purview of the Oireachtas to change voting rights and that such a change would require an amendment to article 47.6 of the constitution. This means that were this amendment to ever be changed to allow Irish citizens in Northern Ireland to vote in Irish Dáil or presidential elections or referenda, a separate referendum would have to be held regarding this amendment.
While her attempts to bring about a hasty change to the law to allow more votes be cast in the upcoming referendum may've been unsuccessful, as a challenge for a student to essentially single-handedly decide to undertake, it is astoundingly admirable.
I would like to think of myself as an at least vaguely politically aware and engaged person, however, at no point have I ever brought about a High Court challenge regarding a part of the constitution I felt to be in need of amending.
Given the fact that she is still a student, her attempts seem doubly impressive. While I was in college the most I ever came to directly engaging in politics was when I once, when going to a class, walked into the wrong lecture hall and accidentally found myself knee-deep in a Young Fine Gael meet-and-greet. Naturally, I loaded up on the free finger-food, helped myself to a tiny plastic cup of wine and high-tailed it out of there, like some vastly apathetic Robin Hood.
Her efforts should be commended and her dedication to the cause should prove ample evidence to those apathetic or still undecided about the upcoming referendum of just what it means to those it directly affects.