A Government decision on whether Ireland should proceed to call a referendum to allow its diaspora to vote in Irish presidential elections could be made before Christmas, according to the Minister for the Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan.
The Minister who was in Australia as part of a worldwide tour of Ireland’s community abroad stated the issue of voting for the Irish abroad ‘kept coming up’ and is hopeful that a decision will be made before Christmas.
The Constitutional Convention last year voted in favour of recommending the extension of voting rights in Presidential elections for Irish citizens who are resident outside of the State. Early this month an Oireachtas committee recommended that voting rights should be extended to Irish citizens living abroad.
The Minister stated to Flight of the Cubs that he is currently awaiting on a position paper from the Department of Environment after which it will be discussed in Government.
The Minister for State, who is strongly in favour of allowing a vote to the Irish abroad in the Presidential elections, said the issue was ‘very much on the table.’
There are presently over 1 million Irish passport holders outside Ireland and the Minister stated he saw no reason why these passport holders could not have a vote in the Irish presidential elections.
‘It would send a very important statement to the Irish diaspora that we want them involved, not just as being part of networks but them part in the future decision making of our nation’ stated the Minister.
Globally there are currently 115 countries and territories – including nearly all developed nations – that have systems in place to allow their emigrants to vote.