Voting referendum ‘unlikely’ this year for Irish expats

Published:  20 Jan at 4 PM
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A referendum on whether to allow Irish expatriates the right to vote in general elections is unlikely to take place this year, according to Minister of State for the Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan.

The Cabinet was scheduled discuss holding a referendum on the matter before Christmas, but it has yet to do so, confirmed Deehinan. The minister said that referendums on the minimum age of presidential election candidates and marriage equality were due to be held in the next 12 months, so it would be “”logistically very difficult” to stage a third.

More than 120 countries worldwide allow citizens residing overseas to cast their ballots, but Ireland still does not permit emigrants to vote in either presidential or Dail elections.

The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government has been working on a proposal to introduce a law allowing emigrants to vote and Cabinet is set to discuss it in the coming months, according to Deenihan. However, he said the issue would not be part of the government’s latest diaspora policy, which is expected to be published in the near future.

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Affairs published a report in November recommending that Irish emigrants be allowed to vote. The report came after the European Commission criticised the country for “disenfranchising” Irish expatriates in EU states by not granting them the right to vote.
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