THE PROSPECT of a referendum extending presidential voting rights to the Irish diaspora taking place before 2024 has been welcomed by Sinn Féin Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile.
He called on the Irish government to outline a definite time frame for the referendum, after Irish diaspora Minister Colm Brophy said that if a referendum grants Irish people living overseas a vote, they will be able to vote via postal ballots for the next presidential election in 2025.
"What we in Government want to do is restore to the Order Paper a piece of legislation to allow the Irish who would be Irish born people who are living abroad an opportunity to participate in the presidential election," he told the Irish Independent.
"You’d have a referendum and that would allow people in Ireland decide if they wanted to extend that franchise, I think that’s a good idea, we’ve wanted to give expand that for a while."
He was speaking as he co-chairs the Global Diaspora Summit of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) this week, where he said diasporas have the potential to "do so much more" if the "right conditions are put in place to make that possible."
The IOM is the UN body with responsibility for international migration policy and is based in Geneva. Ministers and ambassadors from 12 countries are in Dublin to oversee the proceedings, with a further 100 delegations contributing online.
Sinn Féin's Ó Donnghaile said the referendum "is a long-standing government commitment."
"As government has just returned from travelling the world, engaging our global diaspora, it is now time to show our citizens overseas that they are valued and have a stake in the life of Ireland.
"It is also crucial that citizens in the north of Ireland are no longer ‘left behind’ when it comes to votes electing our President.
"The government needs to outline the time frame and set a date for the holding of this referendum - now is the time."
A bill was originally introduced by government in 2019 which would allow non-resident citizens to vote in the presidential elections.
However, the bill lapsed with the dissolution of the Dáil in January 2020, and it was restored to the order paper in July 2020.