More people outside Ireland could potentially vote in the 2025 presidential election than those living here if referendum plans pass.
Diaspora Minister Joe McHugh confirmed the possible situation after Taoiseach Enda Kenny revealed plans for a referendum by next year.
At a Famine memorial event in Philadelphia, USA, Mr Kenny confirmed the Government has signed off on plans to radically reform the presidential voting system to allow millions of people living abroad have their voices heard. Mr Kenny later told reporters that option papers will be set out next month on what the changes will entail, with a final proposal to be revealed in May and a “realistic” 2018 date for the referendum.
The Taoiseach said that, if passed, the earliest date for the new system to be in place will be the 2025 presidential election. However, while he rejected widespread suggestions the move will benefit parties such as Sinn Féin due to its extensive foreign network and concern it will diminish the voice of Irish-based voters, Mr McHugh conceded the proposed change means Irish-based voters could be dwarfed by foreign-based voters.
“You’re including outside the State, so outside the State, in Northern Ireland 1.8m, and you’re talking about another 1.8m potential citizens internationally. So that’s 3.6m,” Mr McHugh said.
Mr Kenny has not ruled out the possibility of a foreign-based presidential candidate in future elections.
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