Ireland’s Transport and Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar is backing proposals to allow the Diaspora to vote in Presidential and parliamentary elections.

The Fine Gael deputy has told the Sunday Independent newspaper that he is in favor of allowing Irish emigrants to vote.

Ex-pat groups have campaigned for years for the rights of Irish citizens living abroad to vote in general elections and presidential polls.

This endorsement by the Dublin based Minister will be seen as a major boost for their campaign.

Varadkar told the paper: “My own view is that I would like to extend the franchise for the Presidency. I like the idea of the President being the President of the Irish people and the Irish nation.

“In circumstances such as this we would like to extend voting rights to all Irish citizens. I think it would be a nice thing to do and would be of real value.'

“Such a move would feed into the desire expressed throughout the Gathering initiative for closer ties with Ireland.”

The Minister added: “This would recognize, respect and validate the ongoing ties between the Diaspora and the country. This is not tokenism. The President is the embodiment of the spirit of the Irish nation.”

The paper reports that Varadkar also said that, in principle, he is also ‘supportive’ of the concept of allowing emigrants to vote in domestic elections.