Referendum on votes for the Irish abroad a priority in Ireland's new Diaspora Strategy

Referendum on votes for the Irish abroad a priority in Ireland's new Diaspora Strategy

THE Irish government has launched a new Diaspora Strategy which puts holding a referendum on giving citizens abroad a right to vote in presidential elections among its priorities for the five years ahead.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin welcomed the publication of the Diaspora Strategy 2020-25, which also commits to supporting the most vulnerable members of the diaspora, working on pathways for legal migration of Irish people to the US and “address barriers facing emigrants who are returning home”.

“I am very pleased to launch Ireland’s new strategy for the Diaspora, central to which is a deep appreciation of the profound importance of connection,” Mr Martin said today.

“For many, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has placed a renewed emphasis on their relationship and links to Ireland.”

He added: “There are around 70 million people around the world who are Irish-born or of Irish descent and this Strategy celebrates these people, and all who have a special affinity with Ireland.

“It cherishes their diversity, champions our connections with each other and seeks to give our diaspora a strengthened voice within Irish life, while also setting out the many ways this Government will work to support the Irish abroad.”

The Strategy sets out what the Government will do over the next five years to support and engage with its diaspora communities around the world.

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney explained: “The commitment by the Government to holding a referendum to extending voting rights in Presidential elections to our citizens outside the State provides a real opportunity to engage all citizens around the world in our democracy.

“It underlines the importance attached by the Government to making the Presidency an office which truly represents all the citizens of Ireland.”

Diaspora Minister Colm Brophy added: “Our first priority always will be the welfare of our people abroad.

“Irish community-based organisations play a vital role in helping vulnerable Irish emigrants and we will continue to support their work through the Emigrant Support Programme.

“Just as Ireland is changing, so too is the experience of emigration. Young people will still go abroad but, when they want to come home, we want to make that an easy process.

“Ireland is today a more diverse and multicultural country and so too is our diaspora. This is something we value and will celebrate.”