| 15.8°C Dublin

Kenny plans to give vote to emigrants


Enda Kenny Picture: Kyran O'Brien

Enda Kenny Picture: Kyran O'Brien

Enda Kenny Picture: Kyran O'Brien

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has signalled plans by the Government to extend voting rights to Irish emigrants.

Mr Kenny said he has asked new Diaspora Minister Joe McHugh to prioritise allowing Irish people living abroad to vote in presidential elections.

"This is an issue that has been around for a very long time, but there have been quite sophisticated advances made in terms of voting from abroad and we need to set out a terms of reference as to the conditions that would apply to who should be eligible to vote," the Taoiseach said.


"One of the priorities I have asked the minister to look at and hopefully to be able to implement is the situation as far as emigrant voting is concerned in presidential elections.

"That will be a priority for the Minister for the Diaspora."

Speaking at the Irish Heritage Centre in Manchester, the Fine Gael leader said he will seek contributions from Irish groups overseas.

"We will work towards assisting emigrant communities and situations abroad from Ireland in England, in America, in Australia and other areas," he told an audience of around 100 people.

"That means that we want to work in a closer way with the emigrant communities in Manchester, Birmingham, London, Liverpool, Scotland and so on."

The issue of extending voting rights is due to be debated in the Dail and Seanad in the coming weeks.

Under the current system, citizens still hold on to their vote for 18 months after they leave the country, as long as they intend to return to live in Ireland within that time frame.

During an address to the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce on Thursday night, Mr Kenny spoke about the 100,000 young people who came home to vote in the Marriage Equality Referendum.

However, groups such as the Irish Citizens Abroad Campaign have said Ireland is out of step with other countries in terms of disenfranchising people when they move overseas.

The European Commission has echoed that claim.