| 16.1°C Dublin

Shooting from the lip

• It was the practice in the 15th Century to shoot the messenger when the message was not pleasing to the king.

Is this is the case with Gabriel Byrne?

He said: "I wish The Gathering the very best of luck but they have to understand that the bridge between the diaspora and the people is broken and I tried to fix that for two years and it's still broken . . . most people (in Ireland) don't give a s**t about the diaspora except to shake them down for a few quid."

The renowned Irish actor added that The Gathering 2013 is a cynical exercise. He says that we want the Irish abroad to come for a visit to spend their money here.

Many Irish resident in the US may be illegal immigrants.

They feel that this country has let them down by not providing them with the choice of staying at home in Ireland in the first place.

If there is even a tiny bit of truth in what Mr Byrne says, what can we do to make things right?

Why not give them an input into Irish elections? It is important to note that most modern countries allow their citizens to vote while abroad – among them are Australia, US, France, Italy, Britain and Mexico.

At this juncture, the costs could be prohibitive for Ireland to put procedures in place in the case of Dail and local elections, but with presidential elections it could be done quite easily.

Voters could go to the various Irish embassies or consulates to register. It would be a concrete gesture for Irish abroad and we would be doing more than just paying lip service to the diaspora.

For far too long our emigrants have been disenfranchised once they have left our shores.

It's time to redress the balance.

Cllr Nuala Nolan
Bowling Green, Galway

Irish Independent