Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, the Irish Overseas and Diaspora

May, 2016

Following his election to the 25th Seanad Senator Daly was appointed Seanad Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, the Irish Overseas and Diaspora.

With 70 Million people around the world with Irish Heritage it is a distinct honour to be their voice in the Irish Parliament.

Ireland has a long and enduring relationship with many countries including America, Australia, Canada, and Great Britain. Senator Daly in his role as Spokesperson for the Irish Overseas and Diaspora, will help Irish communities abroad and work on Foreign Affairs issues around the world.

In 2012 Senator Mark Daly became the first person to be appointed by any party to represent the Irish Overseas.

To read the Policy Proposals on the Irish Overseas, click below: 

Fourth Edition of the Policy for the Irish Overseas and Diaspora

policy cover 4th

Third Edition Policy Proposal for the Irish Overseas and Diaspora

3rd edition Policy Proposal Irish Overseas and Diaspora (452x639) (2)

Second Edition Policy Proposal for the Irish Overseas and Diaspora

Irish Overseas

First Edition Proposal for the Irish Overseas and Diaspora

Irish Diaspora


SEPTEMBER 17, 2014

Scotland under attack by Westminster and City of London in “phoney” economic war


100 years ago the elite and leaders of Europe called on millions of citizen to sacrifice themselves under the banner of freedom for small nations. A century later the new leaders and elite solemnly commemorate the sacrifice of those millions for that principal. Yet, we see the same European leaders now arguing against the freedom of Scotland and it’s continued membership of the European Union. We also observe from this side of the Irish Sea the City of London and the Government in Westminster engaging in a “phoney” economic war against Scotland.

In Ireland the government claim to be “neutral” in this “Phoney” economic War, mere observers, despite the fact that we all support the ideals of freedom which Scotland seeks. We are however concerned about the effect an independent Scotland, with control over its corporation tax would have on jobs here and the ability of this nation to attract foreign direct investment. The government is quietly seriously concerned about the obvious knock on effect on the situation in the North

In the event the people of Scotland vote for independence, Ireland and it’s government should not be and will not be neutral in supporting Scotland in any adverse actions by the city of London and Westminster. We must support Scotland’s continuation within the EU, a country that is currently in the EU and meets all the criteria for membership should not and must not be punished by now treating it or those larger EU states.

The position of the leaders of Europe is worrying. Our own former Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn, who is on the executive of the Party of European socialists issued a statement where he said Scotland’s membership would be blocked by large countries such as Spain and ironically in this the anniversary of the start of World War 1, Belgium. His comments were issued by the ‘ Better Together’ Campaign to support their argument against an independent Scotland.

The President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, has not been neutral in his intervention despite saying “I don’t want to interfere on your referendum here …… it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible” for an independent Scotland to get the necessary approval from the member states for it to join the European Union.

Yet, an answer is available to David Cameron and the ‘Better Together’ campaign who question the impossibilities of an independent Scotland being allowed to remain in or rejoin the European Union . This answer is available to the Prime Minister and the British government as members states are allowed to ask the question of Scotland’s membership of the EU in the event of it voting for independence. Amazingly the British Prime Minister refused to ask the EU for official advice on the situation, there by allowing the doubt to continue. Why then did the Cameron and London Government not seek and get a definitive answer?

Pat Cox the former President of the European Parliament who is well accustomed to the way of making the impossible possible in Europe said on RTE’s Morning Ireland that because they are on the inside Scotland should be facilitate and a mechanism is available to do that in the EU

Would government in Westminster and the City of London seriously block an independent Scotland access to EU membership and use of sterling in the full knowledge that it would prevent an independent Scotland being a success? A success that British Prime Minister Cameron has admitted Scotland would be during a speech he gave while he was opposition leader “It would be wrong to suggest that Scotland could not be another such successful, independent country.”

Professor Joseph Stiglitz the Nobel prize winning economist who is well known on this island is right when he says that David Cameron, the Government in Westminster and City of London were “for the most part” bluffing when they ruled out the Scottish National Party calls for a currency Union. The scare mongering over EU membership is “for the most part” an equal bluff. While we remain “officially” neutral, having gone through an economic war similar to the one that is being threatened against the Scots, we must conclude that on this occasion the threat of this economic war is “Phoney” and as Professor Stiglitz would put its “for the most part” bluff.

Ireland’s concerns on an independent Scotland and its effect on job creation here are unfounded in the same way. As are the concerns on attracting foreign direct investment into Ireland when 10 new countries joined the EU. The knock on effect in the North will without doubt be an issue for the Irish government and will require serious reengagement by both governments to tackle this evolving situation.

I agree with the British Prime Minster when he said Scotland would be a successful independent country. As another small country, ranked 7th in the world by the UN human development index, we must not be neutral. We must, should and will be active in asking and persuading other small countries in the EU and the more reluctant larger states to support an independent Scotland’s continuation in the EU.

December 5, 2014

Senator Mark Daly Speaks on U.S. Immigration Reform

Speech Video

December 8, 2014

Irish Foreign Affairs Committee to Holds a Special Meeting on Presidents Obama’s Executive Order and the 50,000 Undocumented Irish living in the United States

At the request of Senator Mark Daly the spokesperson for the Irish overseas and the diaspora in the Irish Senate the Foreign Affairs Committee are due to hold a special meeting next week regrading President Obama’s executive Order on immigration. The senator has requested the Minister of State for the Irish overseas and the Diaspora to come before the committee

Senator Mark Daly has called on the Government to provide extra funding to Irish Organisations throughout the United States who will be helping some of those 50,000 Undocumented Irish who qualify under the terms of the President executive order.

Senator Daly commented “There are many brilliant organisations throughout the United States such as the ILIR (Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform) Irish Pastoral Centres in Boston, San Francisco and Chicago and the Aisling Centre in New York. These organisation are dealing with countless queries from the Irish community. Their work load has increased enormously in the past few weeks and this will only increase further in the coming months as many of the 50,000 undocumented prepare to come out of the shadows and work with the US authorities to become legal.

President Obama himself referenced these people in his speeches, saying “there are Irish in Chicago who do not have their papers in order”, I am calling on the Irish government to provide the essential funding these Irish Organisation will need to help many in the Irish community get their papers in order.

Senator Daly will also be pressing the minister of state for the Irish overseas and the diaspora to push the US government for ‘Humanitarian visa’s’ which would allow those not covered by the executive order to travel to Ireland to be with family at time of distress such as a during a bereavement.
“The US state department also need to be engaged with by the Irish Government on the issue of visa waives. The State Department have done this for Mexico and they should do it for Ireland also ”

January 14, 2013

Give emigrants right to vote

Our citizens abroad deserve to have their say, says Senator Mark Daly

IRELAND has now assumed the presidency of the EU so it should come as no surprise that we find ourselves ready and willing to talk about jobs and economic growth but not a word will be said about Ireland’s dismal record when it comes to voting rights for her own citizens. Ireland does not allow the 800,000 Irish citizens living overseas or in Northern Ireland the right to vote. The real scandal is that we accept as a given this peculiar system of citizenship that distorts the very meaning of the Republic.

Ireland is not only bankrupted economically but we are a Third World nation when it comes to sustaining democracy. It is more than ironic that former president Mary McAleese, whose allegiance to Ireland is unquestionable, was denied the right to vote for so many years because she was born and lived in Belfast.

It is also ironic that 184 years after Daniel O’Connell, the Great Emancipator, secured the right to vote for Catholics, 95 years after the franchise was extended to women and over 45 years after nationalists marched in Derry for ‘One Man One Vote’ that Ireland continues to disenfranchise 2.6m people who are entitled to be citizens. This number includes those 1.8m living in Northern Ireland and those who are Irish passport holders living overseas (800,000). This figure constitutes 36% of all those who are entitled to be citizens of the Republic.

Consider the facts. Only four out of the 33 members in the Council of Europe do not afford their citizens living abroad the right to participate in elections at home. In contrast, over 115 of the 196 nations in the world have enfranchised their citizens living abroad. Many nations that deny the vote are either military dictatorships or nations where elections are neither free nor fair.

The record shows that for every two people born in Ireland one emigrated. Compared to the domestic population of 4.6m in the Republic, Ireland has the largest diaspora in the world relative to its domestic population, standing at 70m people of Irish heritage of which 800,000 hold Irish passports — a number that is just below the combined total of those living in the cities of Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford.

By virtue of Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution anyone of the 1.8m people born in the North is entitled to Irish citizenship. But can they vote? Surely not because they live in Newry, Derry and Belfast and their votes might actually change the political landscape for the better?

The Constitutional Convention which will soon be debating the extension of the right to vote to citizens outside the State in presidential elections is taking a step in the right direction. However, allowing a third of our citizens the right to vote only once every seven years (or five years depending on the outcome of the deliberations of the conventions) is too small a step.

In other countries, citizens living abroad are generally less directly or continuously concerned with or affected by the day-to-day problems of a country. This is not the case in Ireland where the 46,500 citizens who emigrated in 2012 would argue that they had to leave because the economic and political system failed them. Yet we deny them the most basic form of democratic engagement.

The reality is that we are perfectly accepting of a one-sided relationship with the diaspora. Gabriel Byrne was making this point very recently — we want the remittances, the investments and all the tourist dollars we can get from The Gathering, but we are unwilling to give much in return. A vote, surely not!

WE are at a point in time when Ireland must mature and fulfil the democratic aspirations of all of our citizens. As a first step we must allow all Irish citizens the right to vote in our presidential elections including Irish citizens in Northern Ireland. Second, we should follow the example of our European colleagues and allow citizens living abroad some form of parliamentary representation. Portugal, for example, where 20% of the electorate live overseas, allows its citizens living abroad to vote in the Assembly of the Republic elections. However, these voters are confined to voting for just 4 of the 230 seats.

Tourism minister Leo Varadkar made a proposal to extend the franchise to the Irish overseas, but we need many more leaders to step forward to speak on their behalf. However the political establishment is unlikely to allow those 2.6m people living outside the State to decide the outcome of Dáil seats and thus the Government.

In the French Senate there are 12 senators elected to represent French nationals living abroad.

In an Irish context a reformed Irish Senate is one possible and practicable option that would ensure that Irish citizens who live abroad and in Northern Ireland have a voice in Leinster House.

The new proposal ‘Open it Don’t Close it’ by Michael McDowell, Joe O’Toole, Noel Wheelan and Senators Zappone and Quinn suggest measures to transform Seanad Éireann without the need for constitutional amendment. This proposal states that “electors not resident in the state and/or specially those resident in Northern Ireland to be entitled to vote for some or all of the seats on some or all of the panels”.

Ireland is economically bankrupt, but we also have a democratic deficit as well that we must address. We also need to acknowledge the bankruptcy of our democracy. If we are to strengthen our Republic for the long term we must couple economic reform with voting rights reform.

18th March 2016

Time for Irish Citizens Abroad to have vote in Presidential & Seanad Elections

Fianna Fáil is proposing to give Irish citizens living overseas the right to vote in elections for the office of President and Seanad Éireann.

The party’s Spokesperson for the Irish Overseas and Diaspora Senator Mark Daly is detailing the reforms.

Senator Daly says “Ireland has a huge responsibility to our citizens living in other countries and Fianna Fáil believes we must maintain strong ties with the Irish living abroad while strengthening ties with the countries and communities they live in.”

There are approximately 70 million people of Irish heritage living overseas as well as 1.2 million Irish-born citizens living in other countries across the world.

According to the OECD, Ireland now has the highest share of nationals living abroad in the OECD countries.  More than 17% of Irish-born persons aged 15 and over lives overseas.

Speaking as the party publishes its ‘Policy proposal for the Irish Overseas and Diaspora’, Senator Daly has said: “The global Irish footprint continues to grow and a key priority for us now is to pursue reforms that include extending voting rights to citizens living outside of the State.  Ireland is entering the era of new politics, marked by new possibilities.  We should be taking this opportunity to embrace change.

“In order to fulfil the democratic aspirations of all our people we must allow all Irish citizens the right to vote in our presidential elections including Irish citizens in the North.  There are other European examples of parliamentary representation for citizens living outside of the State and a reformed Seanad should extend the right to vote to Irish citizens abroad.  For example in Portugal where 20% of the electorate live overseas, its citizens living abroad can vote in the Assembly of the Republic elections for a set number of seats.  The French Senate also has a set number of positions for election by French nationals living outside of the state.

“If we’re serious about political reform here at home we must recognise that the global Irish community can have an important input into maintaining our democracy.  Aside from extending voting rights I believe we should examine initiatives such as the establishment of an ‘Irish Card’ which would provide benefits such as scholarships for international students and visa-free travel for business and tourism; a specific educational level travel programme to bring young people with Irish heritage to the country to experience our culture, history, and environment; and efforts to promote Irish educational institutes abroad by increasing access to third-level for passport holders and the Diaspora.

“This week countries all over the world will celebrate our national holiday.  Festivals, community events and political partnerships held around St. Patrick’s Day offer a unique opportunity for Ireland to showcase the country, our history, heritage and culture.  Not only is this important from a business perspective in promoting Ireland it is important to all Irish citizens living abroad to recognise them as a continued extension of Ireland.  Giving those citizens a say in the future direction of the country would send a strong message of inclusion, that they can still have an impact on the future of the country so many millions still call home.”