A RECENTLY established political party, styling itself as an Irish version of the Liberal Democrats in the UK, has launched a campaign to give Irish emigrants voting rights at home.

Little-known 'Amhrán Nua' has started a petition demanding that emigrants born in Ireland are allowed to vote in Dáil elections and it plans to present the petition to the Minister for the Environment, John Gormley.

Party founder Ronan Burke said: "Emigration is heartbreaking for emigrants and their families alike but to add insult to injury, Irish emigrants cannot vote in any elections or referendums."

He argued that around 115 countries allow their emigrants to vote and these include countries with very high rates of emigration, such as Italy, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico.

"So Ireland is in a highly unusual situation in not allowing the majority of its overseas citizens any say in the political process," he said.

Burke believes that the extended franchise should be limited to first-generation Irish emigrants and added, "Having a vote would help people feel they are part of what is happening."