Irish in Britain 'disappointed' that Diaspora Policy sidesteps the voting issue

Irish in Britain 'disappointed' that Diaspora Policy sidesteps the voting issue

THE Irish in Britain organisation has welcomed the publication of Ireland’s first official Diaspora Policy despite its “disappointment” that it sidesteps the issue of votes for the Irish abroad.

“We understand this is the first time that any Irish Government has formally outlined a Diaspora Policy,” IIB Chief Executive Jennie McShannon told The Irish Post this week.

“And notwithstanding the unresolved votes issue about which we are disappointed, we applaud the Government for a very positive approach which reflects the diversity of the Diaspora and tailors actions in support of our mutually beneficial relationship,” she added.

The organisation, which represents more than 100 Irish clubs, centres and charities across Britain, believes there is “much to be welcomed” in the new document, which was revealed by the Irish government in Dublin last week, not least its “vision and strategic objectives” to create a closer relationship with the Diaspora worldwide.

But they claim it’s “a pity” that the policy does not address the ongoing call for votes for the Diaspora, a campaign for which the IIB has led in recent years.

“The report focuses on connecting with the younger generations of Irish people who have recently migrated and seeks to develop a lasting relationship with them,” Ms McShannon explained.

“We are therefore greatly disappointed that the government has chosen to ignore the persistent diaspora call for overseas voting.”

She added: “This is a call that has been overwhelmingly supported by an increasingly large number of people across Ireland and more specifically through the serious debate undertaken by citizens participating in the Constitutional Convention.

“Minister Deenihan himself recognised at the reports launch that increased communication and representation were the two key diaspora demands found in the DFA’s consultations, it would be a great pity to start the conversation whilst simultaneously closing the door on any reply.”

Global Irish – Ireland’s Diaspora Policy, which was launched by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Diaspora Minister Jimmy Deenihan in Dublin on Tuesday, March 3, is due to be debated in the Seanad this evening (Tuesday, March 10).