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Dublin: 7°C Monday 24 January 2022
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Irish people abroad really want one thing from the old country

Spoiler: it involves the right to vote.

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

A GROUP CAMPAIGNING for more rights for Irish citizens abroad have called for recent emigrants to be given the right to vote in Ireland’s elections – but only for a few years after they leave the country.

The group, We’re Coming Back, says Ireland should implement a system similar to Australia, which allows citizens overseas to vote for 6 years after leaving.

The call was made today in a response to the Department of Foreign Affairs, which asked emigrants for their views on how Ireland engages with its diaspora.

In a written submission, We’re Coming Back said a precedent has already been set by more than 120 countries around the world which have successfully expanded their voting rights to expatriates.

The group said that a simple statute would broaden the scope of an already-established section in Irish legislation.

A poll last November suggested the majority of people support giving the right to vote in presidential elections to Irish citizens living in other countries.

We’re Coming Back also pointed out that several Government ministers have already voiced their support for extending full voting rights for Irish abroad – but before they were in government.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny gave an impassioned speech to the Dáil 23 years ago in which he said that it was “imperative” that people are able to vote, “even when they are forced to leave, or leave for experience, or better jobs, or because of lack of economic progress at home”.

“Are they the children of the nation only when they are at home?” he asked in the speech in March 1991.

Read: Irish emigrants sent €5.7 billion back from the UK over 30 years >

Column: Emigration is not all a sob story – it also has major benefits >

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