A referendum on whether to permit Irish citizens living overseas to vote in presidential elections is “unlikely” to be held this year, Minister of State for the Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan has said. The decision on whether to hold a referendum was due to be made before Christmas, but the matter has not yet been discussed by Cabinet. Speaking to The Irish Times after a round-table discussion on diaspora affairs in Dublin Castle yesterday, Mr Deenihan said two referendums, on marriage equality and the age qualification of presidential election candidates, would be put to the people next year, and “logistically it would be very difficult” to hold a third. The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government is working on a proposal for overseas voting which will be discussed by Cabinet before the summer, Mr Deenihan said. However, this will not be included in the Government’s new plan for diaspora policy, due to be published in the coming weeks.
’ More than 120 countries have provisions for their citizens abroad to cast a ballot, but Ireland does not currently allow emigrants to vote in presidential or Dáil elections.
A report by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Affairs recommended in November that Irish emigrants be granted the right to vote. This followed criticism from the European Commission, which said Ireland was “disenfranchising” its citizens living in other EU member states by not providing them voting rights.