Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Irish Overseas and Diaspora Senator Mark Daly has accused the government of utterly failing Irish citizens living abroad.
The diaspora will have not an opportunity to vote in the next election for Seanad Éireann despite the Taoiseach’s promise of a “democratic revolution”.
Senator Daly said: “This is another big disappointment for Irish citizens living abroad. They should not be treated as second-class citizens and should be given a vote and a voice in the election of Senators at the time of the next election. Unfortunately this government has completely disenfranchised this group of people because reforms will not be enacted in time and instead will only apply to elections held after the next Seanad members are voted into office.
“Following the last general election the government committed to increasing the voice of the Irish diaspora. The Constitutional Convention, which Fianna Fáil was extremely supportive of and participated in, was tasked with examining the possibility of extending voting rights to the diaspora. The convention decided in September 2013 voting rights should be extended to our diaspora. This was a strong a positive step forward because the members of the convention were drawn largely from the public themselves.
“In the French Senate there are 12 senators elected to represent French nationals living abroad. In an Irish context a reformed Irish Senate is one way to ensure that Irish citizens who live abroad and in the North have a voice in Leinster House.
“I am urging the government to expedite the reforms needed to secure voting rights for Irish citizens living overseas. Quite frankly they have been waiting long enough and the government should step up to the mark.
“Unfortunately this government has taken little or no action and shown little interest in progressing this. Fianna Fáil recognises the important contribution our diaspora makes towards Irish life. In our reform proposal for Seanad Éireann published in 2013 we committed to ensuring that the diaspora would be directly represented in Seanad Éireann. This would be an important first step to give our diaspora the recognition that they deserve.”