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Referendum to give Irish abroad vote in presidential elections delayed to last week in October

The referendum was initially due to take place in May but Cabinet today approved to move it to the autumn.

Image: Sasko Lazarov

A REFERENDUM TO extend voting rights in presidential elections to Irish citizens living outside the State will take place in the last week in October. 

The referendum was initially due to take place in May but Cabinet today approved to move it to the autumn. 

If passed, it would mean those North of the border would be able to cast their vote for the first time, as would other Irish citizens living outside the country.

As things currently stand, Irish people who have emigrated abroad are unable to vote in Dáil or presidential elections or in any referendum that takes place in Ireland.

Initial plans for the referendum were announced in 2016 and were broadly welcomed across the political divide.

However, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said one of the reasons to move the referendum date from May is Brexit, as well as the local and European elections being held in the same month.

Varadkar told the Dáil today that the referendum campaign could be complex, stating that the government wants to ensure that there is a “good campaign” in place. 

“We want to win it,” he said, adding that extending the vote out to October will give the government more preparation time and a better change to lay the groundwork for the vote. 

“We have a better chance of getting it passed,” said the Taoiseach. 

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