Senator Billy Lawless says Ireland must decide to embrace diaspora or ‘focus inward’

Extending the vote to Irish citizens in the North for the 2018 presidential election could be the catalyst for people to cast their ballot for a united Ireland, the Seanad has heard.
Independent Senator Billy Lawless said 25 of the 28 EU member states provide a vote to citizens abroad and 125 countries worldwide do so.

Mr Lawless who was nominated to the Seanad by Taoiseach Enda Kenny to represent the diaspora, suggested that the State start on its commitment to extend the vote through the 2018 presidential election.

“If we allow people in both the North and the South to vote in that election it might be the catalyst for them to vote for a united Ireland,” he said. “Ireland will only benefit from engaging her dynamic emigrants in the democratic process.”

Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

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