The Government is considering extending voting rights to Irish emigrants for three years after they leave the country without holding a referendum on the issue, the Minister for Diaspora Affairs has said. Under existing electoral legislation, Irish citizens are entitled to vote for 18 months after they leave the country, if they intend to return to live in Ireland within that timeframe. Speaking at the first Global Irish Civic Forum at Dublin Castle today, Jimmy Deenihan said there’s a possibility this could be extended to 36 months “without going to the people”.
He said the “home to vote movement”, which saw recent Irish emigrants return to Ireland to vote in the same-sex marriage referendum last month, had captured the “hearts and minds” of the nation. About 110,000 messages using the #HomeToVote hashtag were posted on Twitter over three days.
Extending voting rights was now a “very live issue” as a result.
“I have never seen young people so exercised about voting in my political career, and the fact that so many people came back made a major statement that us politicians will have to take not of and respond to,” he said.