Irish Government will publish paper on the extension of voting rights to Irish abroad in January

Irish Government will publish paper on the extension of voting rights to Irish abroad in January

AN OPTIONS paper on extending voting rights in presidential elections to Irish citizens living abroad is due in January, according to Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald.

The issue of extending the electoral franchise to members of the Irish Diaspora around the world was raised by Sinn Féin deputy Mary Lou McDonald TD, speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil.

Ms McDonald accused the Government of a “con job” in their treatment of the prospect of the Irish abroad and those in Northern Ireland being handed the right to vote in presidential elections.

But the Tánaiste rejected Sinn Féin’s accusation that the Government had been “stalling” on the issue, saying that “considerable practical implications” had been behind the motion’s apparent lack of speed.

Ms Fitzgerald also said that unlike Sinn Féin, the Government had to provide a detailed plan of action which would consider a “range of questions” over the issue.

Scroll down to watch what was said in the Dáil

11/10/2016. Budget 2017. Pictured is Fine Gael Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald in Government Buildingsas she announced details for her department for budget for 2017. Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald (

Ms McDonald also claimed that the Government’s voting down of Sinn Féin’s motion to extend the franchise to the North and beyond was “one of the worst examples of hypocrisy and double-crossing we have seen from either the Tánaiste's party or its partner, Fianna Fáil, in the current term.”

The Sinn Féin deputy lambasted what she described as the Government’s “lip service” to Irish people living in Liverpool, Manchester, London, New York, Boston and Australia.

But Ms Fitzgerald reiterated that the Government would not be made to rush on the issue.

“Detailed work needs to be done on this and it is being done by the Minister of State. I have already told the Deputy that the Minister of State is examining it and taking it seriously. He is developing an options paper which will deal with the practical implementation of this,” she said.

Ms Fitzgerald revealed one other option on the table was that only those who have lived in Ireland should qualify for the right to vote.

The Tánaiste added that Sinn Féin TD does not have a “monopoly” on the issue and that members across the Seanad “have family members living abroad.”

Minister for local government Simon Coveney said that he would author a detailed options paper on extending the voting franchise in presidential elections to Irish Diaspora.

Mr Coveney revealed he would bring the options paper to the Dáil next month.

Here's what the Government has said about extending voting rights for the Irish abroad...