Every five years EU citizens choose who represents them in the European Parliament, the directly-elected institution that defends their interests in the EU decision-making process. The next European elections will take place in 2019.
Who can stand for election?
Every Irish citizen and every resident citizen of another EU Member State, over 21 years of age, who is not disqualified by Community or national law and is not standing as a candidate in another Member State, is eligible to be elected in Ireland to the European Parliament. Persons undergoing a prison sentence in excess of six months, undischarged bankrupts and persons of unsound mind are disqualified from election. Certain occupations are incompatible with membership of the Parliament, for example, Ministers and Ministers of State, Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas, members of the judiciary, members and officials of various EU institutions, civil servants, wholetime members of the Defence Forces and Gardaí (police).
Irish citizens living in another Member State are entitled to contest the European elections in that country. However, a person is not entitled to seek election to the Parliament in more than one constituency or country.
Who can vote in the European elections?
Every Irish citizen and every resident citizen of another EU Member State who is aged 18 years or over and whose name appears on the register of electors is entitled to vote. A register of electors is compiled each year by the county or city council. With the exception of British citizens, EU citizens not registered to vote at previous European elections in Ireland must apply for registration and complete a statutory declaration form (EP1) which is available from County and City Councils. The statutory declarations are sent to the home Member State of the elector to guard against double voting.
A draft register of electors is published on 1st November annually and is made available for public inspection online at www.checktheregister.ie as well as in libraries, post offices and other public buildings. Claims for corrections to the draft may be made up to 25th November. Claims are adjudicated on by the county registrar who is a legally qualified court officer. An appeal may be made to the Circuit Court against a county registrar's decision. The register of electors comes into force on the following 15th February. Persons not included in the register may apply for inclusion in a supplement to the register: the closing date is fifteen working days before polling day.
Irish citizens living in another Member State are entitled to vote at the European election in that country. However, a person is not entitled to vote at the elections in more than one constituency or country.
When are the next European Elections?
The European Elections will take place between 23-26 May 2019. The exact date should be confirmed in the coming months and will probably coincide with the Irish local elections (with the possibility of constitutional referendums also taking place on the same day). Due to Brexit, Ireland will gain two MEPs sparking the need to review the current European constituencies. This process has been initiated by the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government who signed an Order on 24 July 2018 establishing a European Parliament Constituencies Committee. The closing date for submission to the Committee was set for 31 August and the Committee must submit its report to the Dáil no later than 24 September.