Varadkar favours vote for diaspora


ELECTION:MINISTER FOR Transport Leo Varadkar has said he would be in favour of allowing members of the Irish diaspora to vote in presidential elections at some point – but not in parliamentary polls.

Speaking at the Global Irish Economic Forum, Mr Varadkar said it would be worth allowing Irish citizens living outside the State to vote for presidential candidates “because the president would then become the president of all the Irish and all of Ireland”.

“I think if you do it for parliamentary elections you then have a problem,” he said, adding such a development would raise serious questions as to which constituencies people living outside the State would be entitled to vote in.

“Also, we would have probably the best part of half a million people in Northern Ireland who have Irish passports and would then be able to vote and potentially swing the election . . . it’s no taxation, no representation,” he told the “Engaging the Young Leaders of the Global Irish” session.

Mr Varadkar said a vote could perhaps be restricted to people who had left the State in the last five years.

Eamon Eastwood, chief executive of Australian-based Taste Ireland, argued that people who were forced to leave Ireland because of a shortage of job opportunities should be allowed to vote in elections in order that they could remain connected with goings-on at home.