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What The Referendum Commission Means For Irish Voters Abroad

A Referendum Commission has been set up to advise on the upcoming ballot on allowing Irish emigrants and people in the North to vote in presidential elections.

The announcement was made on Friday by Simon Coveney who ordered the group to be established to explain the referendum and encourage more voters.

The Tánaiste made his order ahead of a forthcoming referendum on whether to extend voting rights to Irish citizens living outside of the state.

The principal function of the commission – which has been established under the Referendum Act 1998 – is to prepare, publish and distribute statements containing a general explanation of the referendum proposal.

It will also promote awareness of the referendum and encourage the electorate to vote.

Irish citizens living abroad and in Northern Ireland would be able to vote in presidential elections from 2025 onward if it passes.

Justice David Barniville has been appointed as Chairperson of the commission alongside Comptroller and Auditor General Séamus McCarthy, ombudsman Peter Tyndall, clerk of the Dáil Peter Finnegan, clerk of the Seanad Martin Groves.

The other members are the Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy, the Ombudsman Peter Tyndall, the clerk of the Dáil Peter Finnegan and clerk of the Seanad Martin Groves.

The government last week published a bill allowing people abroad to vote in presidential elections, but the referendum is unlikely to place in November as planned due to Brexit and four previously scheduled by-elections. 

The bill must first be passed by the Dáil and Seanad before a referendum can be held.

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