Irish emigrants may get to vote for ‘diaspora’ Senators

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.

Mr Deenihan said providing full Dáil voting rights would be impractical as there “could be more voters outside a constituency than within it”.

He considered it more feasible the diaspora could vote in presidential elections, before adding that direct Senate representation was another option he favoured.

“The three senators could prove to be worth more than the taxpayer is paying to have them there,” he said. “They would be making a very important connection with the diaspora and could be using that connection to pursue investment. It would be a two-way process.”

Mr Stanton said that he supported his colleague’s views on Senate representation, describing it as “a great opportunity” for representation of passport holders and “millions of others” of Irish descent.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

Email Updates

Receive our lunchtime briefing straight to your inbox

More in this Section

Discovery paves way for multiple sclerosis treatments

Kathleen Lynch to contest next election despite ‘bruising’ defeat

‘No room at the inn’ for tourism workers

Up to two consultants a month quit


Breaking Stories

Dublin man 'lucky to be alive' after 'unprovoked attack' leaves him with bleeding on the brain

Gardaí seize almost €750k of cannabis after stopping car and van in Dublin

OPW 'optimistic' Skellig Michael will open to public; issues 15 permits for boatmen to bring visitors

It costs taxpayers €16.50 each time a person uses a public toilet in Cork

Lifestyle

Speaking up on mental health to challenge the stigma of schizophrenia

Prine Harry opens up about pain following his mother's death

Vandalism of landscape and natural history

5 things to do this week

More From The Irish Examiner