Irish Govt to hold referendum to give northerners- & citizens abroad- the vote in Presidential elections

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has confirmed that the Irish government will move to hold a referendum to allow Irish citizens living in the north of Ireland and abroad the right to vote in Irish Presidential elections.

In a speech delivered at the Famine Memorial in Philadelphia, the Fine Gael leader finally confirmed that the government would move to act on a recommendation made at the Constitutional Convention in 2013.

This is a move likely to be supported across the board by political parties within the southern state, though it will be interesting to see if some voices from inside and outside of the political class are raised in objection to extending the franchise.

All strands of Irish nationalism in the north have long supported this move, not least during Belfast-born Mary McAleese’s 14-year tenure in office.

Given the context of the seismic changes to our electoral landscape delivered through last week’s Assembly election, it will be fascinating to see how different strands of political unionism respond. Will we hear some unionists welcome and embrace the opportunity for their neighbours to participate as fully-fledged Irish citizens in electing our Head of State, or oppose and condemn something that is ultimately beyond their control?