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    By Noreen Bowden | January 21, 2011

    I’ve had quite a few press inquiries in the last month or two – an indication of the growing media interest in the experience of the Irish abroad, and in particular the voting rights issue.

    Here’s a roundup, with some excerpts: Emigration soars as Irish look for a way out

    “People really, genuinely believed emigration was over,” said Noreen Bowden, a consultant and former director of the Emigrant Advice Network.

    Even with the rising numbers of departures, there’s still a notion that the effect is temporary and that emigrants will eventually return, but Bowden doesn’t think there’s any evidence to back up that idea.

    “If you look historically, there was a big period of return in the 1970s and also for the Celtic Tiger. But the Celtic Tiger’s return was driven by huge staff shortages,” she said.

    Irish Post: Votes for Emigrants

    Noreen Bowden, a Diaspora consultant who was born in New York but spent the past 12 years living in Ireland, believes that Irish emigrants’ have paid the price for their own generosity. ‘Irish people aboard are very generous to Ireland in so many ways so there’s never been much of a need to go the extra mile to engage with them politically. Many countries have allowed emigrants to vote as a way to encourage them to contribute economically. Ireland has never needed to do that,’ the editor of explained to me last week. Calls grow for election votes for Irish abroad

    Noreen Bowden of, which advocates voting rights for expatriates, said successive government hadn’t “seen it as a good thing to be able for people to be able to give their verdict on how the economy has been handled.?

    IrishEcho (Aus): Fresh calls for vote to be extended to Irish abroad

    Noreen Bowden, of emigration and diaspora website, told the Echo that momentum is building around the issue but stressed that it is important for a consensus to be reached.

    “We’re so desperate to engage our emigrants economically but we need to do so politically too,? said Bowden.

    “I think that Irish people abroad are as eager to vote on Irish economic policy as Irish people living in Ireland.?

    Bowden says that she would personally favour a constituency-based approach, similar to that used by Italy.

    She has recently launched the website Global Irish Vote, which advocates full voting rights for Irish citizens everywhere

    Irish Central: Arguments for the abolition of Ireland’s upper house of parliament

    The franchise rights of Irish emigrants have been a hotly contested issue of late, and author of Noreen Bowden is an enthusiastic advocate for giving the diaspora a say in the how the home country is governed: “Because we have about a million Irish-born citizens living overseas, the key thing we need to do is achieve a balance between the rights of non-resident and resident citizens. We do have a high number of citizens abroad, but that in itself is no reason for not allowing them a vote: we just need to work out the fairest and most appropriate method of representing them.?

    “Emigrants are affected by government policies and decisions: perhaps most significantly right now, there are thousands, if not tens of thousands of recent emigrants who may hope that their stay will be temporary. They should have a say in policies that may affect their chances of return. We need all hands on deck here to get us through this crisis: we should be working to maximise the contribution and input of all our willing citizens, no matter where they live?. Regarding the potential role of the the Séanad, Bowden says its role could be an important one: “At present the Seanad is seen as a talking shop, of course, as there’s little real power there, but there’s a real openness to reform right now. We need to reinvent our structures to better represent – and give real power to – all of our citizens, including those overseas.?

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