Senator Mark Daly, the Fianna Fail spokesman for the Irish overseas and the Diaspora, has welcomed the announcement by Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar, that he favors extending the vote to Irish emigrants in general elections.
"However it raises questions," said Senator Daly, "Is the minister only going to give votes in Dail elections to the Irish overseas?
"What about those living in the Northern Ireland? Will they be allowed to vote in Dail and Presidential elections? How many seats in the Dail does the minister think should be allocated to the Irish living outside the state?"
Senator Daly, who is an alternate for the party at the Constitutional Convention, will be supporting the extension of the right to vote for all Irish citizens wherever they live.
He said, "The 46,500 Irish citizens who emigrated in 2012 should be allowed to vote along with all those other who hold Irish citizenship.
"If the minister is true to his word and ensure that the franchise is extended we will not have the ridiculous situations where former President Mary McAleese, whose allegiance to Ireland is unquestionable, was denied the right to vote for so many years because she was born and lived in Belfast.
"Ireland is in an economic deficit, but we also have a democratic deficit as well that we must address and extending the vote to all those who are Irish citizens will be a step in the right direction."
Senator Daly has been carrying out research in this area.
Among his findings:
He has found that only four out of the 33 members in the Council of Europe do not afford their citizens living abroad the right to participate in elections at home. These four countries are Ireland, Malta, Cyprus, and Greece.
He also stated that over 115 of the 196 nations in the world have enfranchised their citizens living abroad and many of the nations that deny the vote are either military dictatorships or nations where elections are neither free nor fair.
The record shows that for every two people born in Ireland one emigrated.
Compared to the domestic populations of 4.6 million in the Republic, Ireland has the largest diaspora in the world relative to its domestic populations standing at 70 million people of Irish heritage.
And by virtue of articles two and three of the Constitution, anyone of the 1.8 million people born in the North of Ireland are entitled to be Irish citizens.
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