Imagine the impact it would have if even 1-2pc of the Irish diaspora were enfranchised?

On that plan to globalise voting rights for the Presidency, Shane Coleman with a (two )large bucket(s) of cold water in his hands…

…without any detail to accompany the sweeping vision, it all smacks of “never mind the quality, feel the width”.

There are far, far more questions than answers. How would it work? Who would get votes – everybody across the world eligible for an Irish passport, including second and third-generation Irish? Or just those who grew up in Ireland and who left within a set number of years previously? How would people go about casting their vote – could it be online, as some have suggested?

Mr Kenny won’t have to answer these questions. His successor will have the awkward business of working out the finer points.

The point has been made that this is not new or radical – there are 115 states globally with some form of voting for non-resident citizens. But few, if any, of these countries are comparable to Ireland, which has been exporting sizeable chunks of its population for 200 years.

The Irish diaspora is said to be as high as 70 million globally. Imagine the impact it would have if even 1-2pc were enfranchised.

And a final nod to Martyn Turner


  • Kevin Breslin

    It’d be fantastic, absolutely freaken fantastic!

  • Korhomme

    The ‘Swiss abroad’ who are registered with the authorities in Switzerland can choose whether they wish to vote in federal referendums or not. Such voting is done either by post or on-line. There are around 3-4 million ‘Swiss abroad’ IIRC, nothing like the numbers of the ‘Irish abroad’.

    So, a simple answer to the question ‘how is it done’ would be to pop along the the Swiss Embassy in Ballsbridge and ask how they do it.

    And yes, I’m eligible to vote for the President and would be happy to do so.

  • Arthur Renfrew

    The insular mindset displayed among some MSM commentators in the South, such as Shane Coleman, in relation to this proposal are only matched by the like of Tom Elliott. And the common theme is barely contained contempt for Nordies, particularly of the SF voting variety. I heard Shane hysterically poopooing the idea on the Newstalk breakfast show, again and again, praying for the public reaction to be negative. He’s just dismissing the idea out of hand as if it’s not at all possible while informing us that many countries already do it. This proposal, taken with Micheál Martin’s back-of-the-fagpacket United Ireland , is pretty clear attempt to distract from recent poll and actual election results.

  • Muiris

    It could be a positive, connecting with some of the diaspora.

    There would have to be some limitations, to show commitment, eg must have a current Irish passport for some time before the vote, must present themselves at an embassy/ consulate to vote, would be my initial thoughts.

  • Simples. Anyone who opts in to pay Irish taxes gets a vote. Those in Ireland who hide behind tax havens loose their vote.


    Who in the right mind would listen to Shane Coleman or Paul Williams in the mornings. Too many journalists now think they are experts in everything,some even tell us who to vote for,others tell us who not to vote for
    God be with the time jouurnalists used to just report the facts,Mrs May will decide the future of the North,
    especially regards unity,A hard border will help. Downing street never cared much for the North.except when
    the Tories needed Unionists votes.

  • Mark Petticrew

    If they don’t knuckle down soon on who exactly would be eligible amongst the worldwide Irish diaspora, these greatly inflated estimations – such as the 70 million that was mentioned above – will continue to be seized upon by those who wish to wreck efforts to extend the franchise.

    Pity the criteria for those eligible wasn’t already settled at the time of Enda Kenny’s announcement, for that would’ve disarmed those pushing the narrative that there’ll be more Irish-Americans electing the next President of Ireland than the Irish themselves.

  • murdockp

    It was interesting to see Tom Elliot strongly oppose polling stations for this election in NI.

    I couldn’t help but think that he has different values to British Counterparts in England who regularly have diaspora elections in London for many nationalities such as Romania, Sudan, US, Australia etc.

    Tom and his like must think the grass grows a different colour on the other side of this border. They must panic when they see shamrock growing in their fields.

  • murdockp

    If their charged a €10 fee for each diaspora voter, it could be a tidy sum.

  • Skibo

    The simplest method would be the possession of an Irish passport. To be eligible to vote in the Presidential election, each person would have to request a registration form and would require a passport number. dead simple. Voting could be done by post or on line.
    Citizens of the USA have a vote no matter where they reside at in the world.

  • Mark Petticrew

    I realised how much I’d taken Mike Nesbitt’s leadership for granted when I heard Tom Elliott’s comments on Monday; Nesbitt just wouldn’t have came off with that sort of tripe. With Elliott as the UUP’s de facto leader, unionism right now is basically a DUP double act.

  • Tarlas

    Economist David Mc Williams did an article on this some time ago. The good will and economic benefits that could be tapped into by reaching out to the global Irish diaspora for FDI are good.

  • NMS

    Time to increase the cost of a passport to €1,000 which you can take as a tax credit?

  • Damien Mullan

    So what if the franchise is larger. There are checks and balances in place as regards legibility of candidates to stand for the presidency.

    Is Shane Coleman seriously suggesting that, 20 of the 218 serving members of the Houses of the Oireachtas, or, at least 4 of the 31 county or city councils, are going to nominate a Trump style candidate, who was effectively an outsider. Outsiders with such controversial baggage would have some serious difficulty in getting nominated in as ridged a party political system like that in Ireland. In Presidential elections the main parties nominate their candidates, independents might likely nominate one, if they could muster the 20 requisite number to do so. The county and city councils are under the control of the various parties, sufficient enough as to ensure no rogue candidate like Trump could ever succeed to getting nominated. Look at the difficulties experience by Senator David Norris in his quest for nomination, even though he had fairly high public approval ratings before and after the close of nominations deadline, his campaign ultimately faltering over controversial comments he made regarding pederasty.

    Lets be very clear here, Shane Coleman just doesn’t like the All-Ireland dimension of this initiative, for he’s a partitionist southern nationalist, so avoiding the obvious frontal attack against this initiative, he instead takes a passive aggressive one, by launching a diversionary attack against the Irish diaspora, undoubtedly stoking the ‘deplorables’ image in which we ought to eschew rather than embraced those of Irish heritage, thereby squashing this initiative in its entirety.

    But northern nationalists are his primary target. He doesn’t want us messy northerners interfering with his precious southern statelet, always the partitionist mindset from Coleman. Those days are nearing an end though, rapidly.

  • burnboilerburn

    Its a conversation that many of us are looking forward to having. The idea is good but the devil as always is in the detail. The D4 media are in a bit of a panic fearing we might end up with Gerry as President in 2025 if they don’t stamp their feet hard enough right now.

  • chrisjones2

    They could do what the British Labour Party did. Join the party for £3 and get a vote. That went well

  • Damien Mullan

    The Republic is not a one party state. So what party would they be joining and donating to?

  • Ray Lawlor


    Oh Lordy lord… Martin Turner….

  • Ray Lawlor

    But he didn’t have to look over to England … polish nationals voted in polish elections here in Tom’s beloved Northern Ireland as recently as 2010.

  • aquifer

    A formidable projection of soft power that can be capitalised upon. Post Brexit Ireland may expand very fast and with those connections re-animated it would not have to slow down. The population would expand North and South and a vote for a UI would become much more winnable. The presidential vote would be done online or by text. What is the Unionist game plan?

  • Barneyt

    I can see your thinking however my gut says it should be extended to the island of Ireland first….for those that secure citizenship. Not sure about the wider field

  • AntrimGael

    I think a referendum on Irish Presidential voting rights would be very, very close and I wouldn’t be surprised if allowing the diaspora the vote was defeated. The Irish media, large parts of the political Establishment and indeed many Southern citizens are rabidly partitionist and would be set against this. The Sinn Fein bogeyman would be wheeled out and the threat of ‘Nordies’ having a veto on the Presidential office will be hammered home time and time again. In fact knowing the South as I do I reckon it WOULD be defeated.

  • Jollyraj


  • Jollyraj

    Think that might quickly cut the diaspera from the grotesque 70 million to about 7 million sharpish.

  • chrisjones2

    No just offer a vote if you believe you are Irish register and for say €5 you get a vote online to chose the president.

  • chrisjones2

    Have a look at the example what happened in Tower Hamlets.

    As forIreland a certain party I can think of would be around the doors ‘borrowing’ passports to “save you the bother of having to do it yourself”

  • chrisjones2

    Isnt it already that if you know the right people?

  • Damien Mullan

    Because we our Irish and want to vote for the President of Ireland. That’s why.

  • Jollyraj

    Ok, well take it up with them then.

    Perhaps the irish of Ireland proper will have a vote on whether people who live outside of Ireland and don’t pay Irish taxes can vote. If they decide you cannot, you’ll just have to accept it.

    It’s of no concern to me.

  • burnboilerburn

    Then why bother comment ?

  • Damien Mullan

    We don’t have the vote now and we accept it. There’s no need to qualify ‘Ireland’ with the word ‘proper’, Ireland will suffice.

  • Jollyraj

    Because he addressed a comment to me.

    Why am I commenting now? Because you asked me a question.

  • Croiteir

    You are absolutely on the button.

  • harmlessdrudge

    Ireland is the only EU country without a postal ballot in elections AFAIK. Had we had one we’d have punished Fianna Fail for incompetence and corruption long before the election before last. The people who left and were disenfranchised after the 1980s were predominantly young and liberal, and their loss delayed progressive social change for a long time. This made Ireland less attractive to return to and likely contributed to some further emigration. We are still behind where we should be in many respects.

    The pathetic excuse for denying emigrants the vote is that they don’t pay Irish taxes. That’s disgusting. People who grew up here, have families here, who remit money here in many cases, who return regularly in many cases, and who aspire to come back someday are treated shabbily on the basis of begrudgery. Lots of people who vote don’t pay taxes either. If some amount is required, declare what it is and make it possible. Why is it every other EU country can provide postal ballots for their non-resident citizens? They are certainly not all taxpayers in their home countries.

    The next absurd objection is the number of Irish abroad: tens of millions supposedly. That, of course, is hogwash. Sure, plenty of people have some kind of connection, but we can forget those without passports for a start.

    Ireland’s treatment of non-resident citizens is anomalous and discriminatory. UK citizens can continue voting for 15 years after moving abroad. That is a reasonable time period. It is certainly pretty peculiar that Irish citizens with Irish passports living on the island of Ireland cannot vote for a candidate for president from Northern Ireland (cf Mary McAleese). Changing that is overdue.

    And if Barack O’bama wanted the job that would be fine too in my book. Why not? 🙂 We paid Enda Kenny more than the US president, so why not make it a job open to the best possible candidates willing to be nominated. We’ve had presidents who were Protestant (starting with the first); from the North; and who didn’t speak word of Irish (to the outrage of some small-minded people; Ernest Childers).

  • harmlessdrudge

    Rabid partitionists? Rabid? That’s a pretty ridiculous claim. There are certainly people in Ireland who want no part of the utterly repugnant sectarian strife that we grew up seeing on TV in the south, but to say that they are “rabid” partitionists is a stretch and seems, frankly, bogus to me.

    Ask any objective independent observer of the country and its politics which part of the country has seen or experienced political rabidity and I don’t think you’ll find many voting for the constituencies you claim. Ian Paisley would be first foaming at the mouth demagogue on most people’s lists.

    “Knowing the south as I do” — you mean you don’t live here but you’re going to claim infallible knowledge. Right.

    There is, of course, immense hostility in the south to Sinn Fein. This is not rabidity, nor is it partitionist. It is common sense. And it is a thoroughly deserved sentiment and it will not change. For most of my life Sinn Fein and friends were dedicated to the overthrow of the state. Our prejudice against these people hasn’t gone away you know. Once bitten and all that.

  • harmlessdrudge

    You’re confusing contempt for people from the north (absolutely untrue) with contempt for the friends of and apologists for the men of violence.

    A great many of us in the south have as much love for Sinn Fein as the DUP do. That combination is like phosphorous and water. They bring out the contemptible worst in each other. Do we need this? Nope. Do we like the All Ireland Irish Rugby team and think it sets an example? Absolutely. Entitled to play for Ireland? Then you should be able to vote for president.

    I would love to see northern unionists vote in a presidential election and if they happened to sink a Sinn Fein candidate, well that would be democracy wouldn’t it. Who could not like that?

  • harmlessdrudge

    Could it be the best way to persuade unionists to vote?

    Maybe we could create a post of deputy first president and allow non-residents to vote for that until Jorry is safely underground? 😉


    Times are changing,In the last election in the South Sinn Fein increased their first preferences
    by 70000, Over a quarter of a million voters walked away from Fine Gael costing them a third of their seats,Experts over the years told us this could never happen.

  • burnboilerburn

    No, u entered the conversation urself by asking Kevin Breslin ‘why?’ When he said it was fantastic. So clearly it concerns you on some level assuming u live in the North. But then if you live over in the UK its not an issue.

  • burnboilerburn

    Speak for yourself please. Paranoid fear of SF in the 26 counties is well on the decline now that a significant section of the population are no longer led by the nose by the right wing indobots et al. The habit of Voting FF or FG because my grandma did or because some TD did me Dad favour back in 1952 is also on the decline. Modern SF is doing very well in the South so your prejudice for those people is your affliction only.

  • Tarlas

    I actually don’t know. I often wonder, if they had of accepted Sunningdale, how different thing may have been. They look like they are going to return to a pan unionist trench.

    Are they approaching that Last speech of Nicolae Ceaușescu

    I could envision Arlene & Tom standing at a Pan Unionist rally, trying to create the Never, Never , Never, never, glory days ;when a crisis of confidence/belief in their message, ripples through their followers; exposing the deficits in their single issue pressure group mentality, and their inability to be a fully-fledged political ideology?

  • Tochais Siorai

    Chill. Everyone needs to stop panicking about millions of people whose great great great great granny left Kerry during the famine suddenly wanting to vote in an election they know little or nothing about.

    When it (eventually) happens it’ll be confined to people with Irish passports who register. Those who want to vote will vote. It’ll be a significant number but the majority of those eligible probably won’t bother or it’ll be too much hassle registering or getting to a polling booth.

    And it’ll be a worthwhile exercise which should have been done long ago.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Good to see Tom keeping up with the outreach programme……

  • Ciarán Doherty

    Just because it didn’t go well for you doesn’t mean it didn’t go well. The Labour Party came a democratic mass movement again, and whether you like it or not it’s democratic mass movements that the world relies on to dig it out of the right wing hole it regularly digs for itself.

  • Gavin Smithson

    Why should any diaspora have a vote in anything unless they pay tax to the homeland they so claim to love?

    Poland makes its diaspora pay tax to it.

    The corollary of the Boston Tea Party is “No representation without taxation”

    You want a vote and you live abroad? Fine. Send a regular cheque to your homeland Exchequer then.

  • Donagh

    So the opposition to Presidential voting rights for the north is to come from Independent News & Media. Well blow me down, I never saw that coming.

  • Df M

    This is nothing to do with taxes. The President represents the Irish nation and is largely a symbolic role. No one is arguing that the Irish abroad should vote in Dail elections.

  • Df M

    Totally agree, any costs associated with extending voting rights in Presidential sections to the Irish abroad would be easily recouped in terms of increased FDI etc.

  • nilehenri

    for most of us that was precisely the reason that we had to leave.
    someone in ireland who doesn’t pay tax should have a vote, but an irish businessman who provides employment in ireland but lives overseas shouldn’t?

  • chrisjones2

    You can get counselling for the obsessioins you know

  • chrisjones2

    Just imagine. A President Trump figure in the USA announces extra Visas for the Irish then runs for President of Ireland ….a shoo in

  • Skibo

    You lost me with the Tower Hamlets reference and Ireland I believe all parties are capable of “saving you the bother”. It is not isolated to one party. Can you raise some facts on what you refer to?

  • Skibo

    The cost of an Irish passport at the moment is 80 euro. i would have assumed that cost would have been enough.

  • Jollyraj

    No, I don’t live in the North – though I have been to Donegal and I like its rugged beauty.

    I live in the UK, in Fermanagh, and so the Election of the President of Ireland is of no real interest to me.

  • Df M

    Can a US President hold dual nationality?