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Varadkar wants to give diaspora the vote

In a radical suggestion, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar has said he favours extending the franchise to Irish emigrants for presidential and Dail elections.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Mr Varadkar said: "My own view is that I would like to extend the franchise for the Presidency. I like the idea of the President being the President of the Irish people and the Irish nation.''

Mr Varadkar added that in circumstances such as this "we would like to extend voting rights to all Irish citizens. I think it would be a nice thing to do and would be of real value''.

Mr Varadkar said: "Such a move would feed into the desire expressed throughout the Gathering initiative for closer ties with Ireland.''

He added: "This would recognise, respect and validate the ongoing ties between the diaspora and the country. This is not tokenism. The President is the embodiment of the spirit of the Irish nation.''

Mr Varadkar also said that he, in principle, was also supportive of the concept of allowing emigrants to vote in domestic elections.

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