Irish passport-holders residing aboard may have a vote to elect three members to the Senate. Junior minister with responsibility for the diaspora Jimmy Deenihan outlined a proposed action plan to appoint three Senators with respective responsibility for “the Americas, Europe/ UK, and Australia/elsewhere”. Along with having a say in presidential elections, he indicated the Senate initiative could be part of a revitalised approach towards representing Irish passport holders abroad and inviting investment. Mr Deenihan had estimated the number of Irish passport holders abroad as “well over a million”. The former Arts, Heritage, and Gaeltacht Affairs minister also said, smilingly, that he had informed Taoiseach Enda Kenny — “when he was compensating me” — there was no point in having the new portfolio unless there was some action plan to accompany it.
“The last thing you want to do is build up hopes and not deliver,” he said. “It could become counter-productive if people don’t see results.” The minister of state at the Department of the Taoiseach discussed the idea during a think-tank session with local tourism and service representatives in Youghal, Co Cork.
Mr Deenihan was accompanied by Cork East TD David Stanton, chairman of the Committee on Justice, Defence, and Equality. Mr Deenihan had responded to a suggestion that providing voting rights for Irish passport holders abroad would enhance their “sense of belonging” and encourage more homeland trips as had been evident during last year’s Gathering.