Tuesday, 24 November 2020
Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters
While I thank the Minister of State for the review of where this issue has come from and its journey to date, I am disappointed. I appreciate that he is relatively new in his post. This is something that he may wish to take some time to navigate through. I appreciate that we are in a serious period with the double threat to society of Brexit and Covid-19 looming large. This issue may not be at the very top of the political agenda now but, as the Minister of State has acknowledged, it is one of deep political and societal significance, not least for those who live in the North but also for those living overseas who want to affirm their connection with home, many of whom have been forced to emigrate as a result of political and economic decisions taken in this State over a long time. While I welcome the reintroduction of the Bill, when can we expect the Government to table it? As it is a Government Bill, the Minister of State, who is responsible for the diaspora, should encourage the Government to ensure it goes before the Oireachtas. I am sure people will be keen to debate it and strengthen it, where required. This campaign has been going on for decades. If we are serious about the programme for Government commitment and about telling citizens outside the State that they are valued and we want them to be enfranchised, we need to get this referendum done.