The referendum is to allow those abroad to vote in presidential elections
The Taoiseach Enda Kenny has confirmed plans for a referendum to give Irish citizens abroad a vote in presidential elections.
Enda Kenny made the announcement as he attended St. Patrick's Day celebrations in Philadelphia.
Four years ago the Constitutional Convention recommended that all Irish citizens, whether inside the State or not, should have the right to vote in presidential elections.
Early last year the Government confirmed that they would start looking at how it might be handled.
Today, while standing at a Memorial to Irish famine victims in Philadelphia, Enda Kenny announced that a referendum is on the way.
He said the week of St Patrick's Day is the right time to make the move, as it indicates Ireland cherishes its citizens, no matter where in the world they might be.
Speaking in Philadelphia today, Enda Kenny said "The history of Ireland's diaspora is long and illustrious, marked by great tragedy but also great achievement.
"The tragic origins of the mass emigration at the heart of that story are nowhere more vividly portrayed than here at Philadelphia's powerful Irish memorial."
He continued by saying "A key theme that emerged from submissions received during the development of Ireland's Diaspora Policy was the importance of the issue of voting rights to many Irish citizens abroad.
"Many members of the diaspora felt it would allow them to deepen their engagement with Ireland and to play a more active role in Irish society. This is something with which I absolutely agree.
"That is why I am delighted to be announcing today that the Irish Government has decided that Irish citizens resident outside the State, including in Northern Ireland, should be allowed to vote in Irish presidential elections.
He finished saying that "This proposal will, of course, require the approval of the Irish people in a referendum to amend the Constitution."
Announcement on voting rights is a profound recognition of the importance that Ireland attaches 2 all of our citizens, wherever they may be. pic.twitter.com/TTVCllJLw3— Enda Kenny (@EndaKennyTD) March 12, 2017