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Convention on the Constitution to debate voting rights for Irish living abroad

The sixth meeting of the constitutional convention will feature members of the Irish communities in Australian, Germany, France, USA and Canada by way of video link.

THE CONVENTION ON the Constitution will today discuss extending the vote in Presidential elections to Irish citizens resident outside the State.

The recommendations of the convention will then be reported to Government who will decide if a referendum should be held on the matter.

The meeting will take place in a Dublin hotel today and tomorrow with members of the Irish communities in Australian, Germany, France, USA and Canada taking part by way of video link.

It is estimated that there are 1.2 million Irish citizens living outside the state with a further 1.8 million Irish citizens resident in Northern Ireland.The Central Statistics Office is due to make a presentation at the convention detailing its latest breakdown of Irish citizens abroad.

Northern Ireland

Part of the debate will focus on the position of those Irish citizens in Northern Ireland and the impact of a possible extension of the franchise to citizens there for Irish Presidential elections. The convention will hear the views of MLA members and a number of lecturer’s from Queen’s University Belfast.

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As preparation for today’s meeting the convention sought the views of Irish diaspora by way of an online questionnaire with responses being received from a total of 64 countries. Convention chairman Tom Arnold said the response demonstrated the far-reaching implications of the motion being debated:

This is an extremely important matter that has evoked a passionate response from Irish citizens currently living in all corners of the world. The response has been phenomenal and the fact that we had replies from 64 counties goes to show the geographical reach of the Irish diaspora.

The government will respond to the convention’s recommendations within four months by way of debates in the Oireachtas.

Proceedings from the Convention will be live streamed on the Constitutional Convention’s website.

Read: Convention report recommends longer polling hours and larger constituencies >

Read: Vote for civil marriage for same-sex couples ‘an historic step’ >

Read: Of course I’m worried about the emigration ‘brain drain’ – Bruton >

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Rónán Duffy

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