Sinn Féin has today submitted a policy paper to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s review of Ireland’s engagement with the Irish diaspora.

Speaking after making the submission to the review, Seán Crowe TD, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Trade and Diaspora, said:

“I welcome that the Government has decided to review its engagement with the Irish diaspora and that they have decided to open this review to submissions from the public.

“Sinn Féin’s submission is based on our policy paper entitled Moving Forward Together: A vision for the global Irish diaspora.

“This submission outlines our support for extending voting rights to Irish citizens living outside the state in Presidential, Dáil and Seanad elections. It also calls for diaspora representation in the Dáil and a reformed Seanad, as well as the creation of a new Minister of State for the Diaspora and Irish Overseas.

“Furthermore it details our support for a permanent provision to ensure there is a diaspora representative on the Council of State.

“I hope that the Government is not just paying lip service to this issue and is serious about reforming its engagement with the diaspora. They need to strongly consider the proposals contained in all the submissions they receive.

Crowe continued:

“In September 2013 the Constitutional Convention overwhelming voted in favour of extending Presidential voting rights to Irish citizens living outside the State and it is clear that Irish citizens want to end this disenfranchisement of Irish citizens.

“Ireland is lagging behind international norms when it comes to votes for citizens living abroad.

“The Government was recently criticised by the European Commission for penalising citizens through disenfranchisement for using their EU guaranteed right to travel and free movement within the Union.

“We are out of step and lag behind progressive countries on this issue, so I hope this process will lead to real reform and that it isn’t simply a window dressing exercise for the Government.”