Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams described Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s rejection of a promised referendum next year on the right of the diaspora and Irish citizens living in Northern Ireland to vote in presidential elections as “unacceptable and deeply disappointing.” The Sinn Féin leader also criticized the announcement by the Taoiseach ruling out a referendum before the next presidential election in 2018. In his response to a question from the Sinn Féin leader, the Taoiseach blamed the delay in holding the referendum on the need for officials to determine who would be included in a new franchise, what categories of people would be covered, and the cost of the venture. Kenny, according to an Irish Times report, said he was still committed to holding a referendum on the issue of emigrant voting for the president and had recently met with Diaspora Minister Joe McHugh to request that the research being done by an interdepartmental group be concluded soon.
“We need to look at the scale of what is involved, the number of citizens to whom the franchise might be extended, and what the impact might be on the electorate and the administrative and cost implications that could arise,” Kenny said.
“Issues that need to be considered are whether all citizens outside the State have the right to vote in presidential elections, if they should be limited to a particular category, or if it should be citizens who have been absent from the State for a set period.”
People born in Northern Ireland should also be included, the Taoiseach said, but this “would have to be looked at in the context of the Good Friday Agreement.