'Only small percentage of diaspora would vote'
TÁNAISTE Simon Coveney expects just a "small percentage" of Irish living abroad to vote in presidential elections if a planned referendum on the issue passes.
The Government intends to hold the referendum on extending voting rights for presidential elections to the diaspora and citizens in Northern Ireland in May.
Mr Coveney says the proposal would show Ireland is "looking outwards and taking our citizens abroad seriously".
Sinn Féin has been pushing for voting rights for people in Northern Ireland and the party has supporters in the United States. However, Mr Coveney played down the impact votes from outside Ireland would have in the next election for Áras an Uachtaráin.
"In truth I think quite a small percentage of Irish citizens outside of the island of Ireland - Northern Ireland is different - will actually go to the trouble of voting," he said.
Mr Coveney added that this is not just a "gut feeling" and said it's based on the statistics of other countries that allow citizens abroad to vote.
He said only a small percentage follow politics in their home country to the extent that they take part in voting.
Mr Coveney said extending voting to Irish citizens outside the jurisdiction is "the right thing to do" and he hopes the people will support the proposal in the upcoming referendum.