An options paper on extending voting rights in presidential elections to Irish citizens living abroad is due in January, according to Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald. The issue of extending the electoral franchise to members of the Irish Diaspora around the world was raised by Sinn Féin deputy Mary Lou McDonald TD, speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil. Ms McDonald accused the Government of a “con job” in their treatment of the prospect of the Irish abroad and those in Northern Ireland being handed the right to vote in presidential elections. But the Tánaiste rejected Sinn Féin’s accusation that the Government had been “stalling” on the issue, saying that “considerable practical implications” had been behind the motion’s apparent lack of speed.
Ms Fitzgerald also said that unlike Sinn Féin, the Government had to provide a detailed plan of action which would consider a “range of questions” over the issue.
Ms McDonald also claimed that the Government’s voting down of Sinn Féin’s motion to extend the franchise to the North and beyond was “one of the worst examples of hypocrisy and double-crossing we have seen from either the Tánaiste’s party or its partner, Fianna Fáil, in the current term.”
The Sinn Féin deputy lambasted what she described as the Government’s “lip service” to Irish people living in Liverpool, Manchester, London, New York, Boston and Australia. But Ms Fitzgerald reiterated that the Government would not be made to rush on the issue.