Tuesday, 19 January 2010
Dáil Eireann Debate
676. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will support the campaign on votes for Irish emigrants in view of the fact that 115 countries already support this view; and if he will use this initiative to support the economy here. [1614/10]
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Micheál Martin): My colleague, the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government has primary responsibility for the various legislative codes dealing with the registration of electors and the conduct of elections and referendums. Policy regarding votes for non residents is dealt with by the Franchise section of that Department.
The question of voting rights for Irish citizens living abroad was most recently considered in 2002, by the All-Party Committee on the Constitution. In relation to emigrant participation in political life, the Committee concluded that the right to vote in Oireachtas elections should remain confined to citizens ordinarily resident in the State.
However the renewed Programme for Government, agreed in October 2009, mandates that recommendations should be made on the feasibility of extending the franchise for Presidential Elections to the Irish abroad. It will be the responsibility of the Department of Environment to progress this issue.
The Government attaches a high priority to the interests of Irish emigrants. Under my Department’s Emigrant Support Programme, over €60M has been allocated to Irish welfare, culture and heritage organisations abroad over the past five years. A further €12.M has been allocated to the Programme for 2010, which will allow us to continue to maintain and strengthen links with Irish communities abroad.
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