The Irish diaspora should be given more involvement in Irish affairs, the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs heard last week during a review on foreign policy and external relations.

The Irish Times
reports that its deputy editor, Denis Staunton, formerly its American correspondent, appeared before the committee hearing on Thursday.

Staunton said the diaspora was “an invaluable resource throughout the world but one that should be cultivated rather than simply exploited."

“If you spend any time with the Irish abroad you will see very quickly that they know a great deal more about us than we do about them,” he said.

“And yet most of our efforts to engage them are focused on pumping out ever more information about us and letting them know what they can do to help us.”

Staunton said members of the diaspora should be offered a vote in elections  “rather than simply identifying the wealthiest and most obviously useful, and exploiting their goodwill”.

Senator David Norris said the diaspora has “asked to get involved in Ireland and we have spurned them."

Graham Butler, from the University of Copenhagen, gave the committee a written submission in which he said that “foreign policy is executive-dominated and is still not a productive area for democratic control."