Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Debate on vote for Irish diaspora

The Constitutional Convention will debate opening up the polls to the Irish diaspora

A powerful forum gathers today for talks which could pave the way for extending the vote in presidential elections to Irish citizens living in the North and overseas.

The Constitutional Convention, a 100-strong body of citizens and parliamentarians set up to recommend changes to the Constitution, will debate opening up the polls to the Irish diaspora.

After voting on the issue tomorrow, it will report back to Government, which will then decide if a referendum should be held on the issue.

Thousands of Irish citizens living as far away as Afghanistan and Zambia have already given their views in an online questionnaire, which attracted replies from 64 countries worldwide.

Over the weekend, representatives from the Irish communities abroad will join the debate simultaneously via live video link-up.

Irish embassies taking part include Sydney, Australia; Munich, Germany; Paris, France; New York, the United States and Montreal, Canada.

Representatives for the North and Britain will also join the debate from the main stage at the meeting, alongside Northern Ireland MLA Convention members.

Academics and legal experts on a range of related issues, including the position of Northern Ireland and the impact of a possible extension of the franchise to citizens there for Irish presidential elections, will give presentations.

The proceedings will be broadcast live on the web at www.constitution.ie and on Twitter via #ccven.

The Constitutional Convention is made up of 66 citizens, 33 politicians from both sides of the border, and an independent chairman, Tom Arnold.

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