Europe

Varadkar hopes to extend Irish citizen voting rights

Leo Varadkar Image copyright PA
Image caption In the coming months, the Republic of Ireland will have a referendum on extend voting rights in presidential elections

Leo Varadkar, the Irish PM, has said he hopes to extend voting rights in Ireland's presidential elections to all Irish citizens.

"I believe an Irish citizen in Belfast or Chicago is every bit as Irish as one in Dublin or Galway," said Mr Varadkar.

He was speaking at the Kennedy Summer School in County Wexford.

In the coming months, the Republic of Ireland will have a referendum on extend voting rights in presidential elections.

If passed, Irish citizens living in Northern Ireland would have a say in electing future Irish presidents.

It had been fixed for 24 May, but was delayed.

The proposal to hold a referendum on extending presidential voting rights was overwhelmingly approved in 2013 by members of the constitutional convention body, which discusses proposed amendments to the Irish constitution.

Irish heritage

Mr Varadkar also said that he wants to reach out to people "for whom Irish heritage is more distant".

"There are those in Latin America and other parts of the world who are proud of their Irish ancestry, even if it is now distant," he said.

"They have a feeling for Ireland and our heritage.

"I'd like to see us provide student visas to people of Irish heritage going back more than two generations who no longer have the right to citizenship.

"I hope the day will come when we have more Argentine Irish and South African Irish doing some of their study here."

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