Councillor Tierney said: “I am bringing this motion asking council to welcome the fact that the Irish Government are to hold a referendum on the right for Irish citizens in the North and the diaspora to vote in future Presidential elections.
“I have spoken on motions in the council chamber before calling on the Irish government to allow all Irish citizens the right to vote in presidential elections regardless if they live in Derry or Dublin, Strabane or Sligo.
“This, I believe is a unique opportunity afforded to Irish citizens who live in the north as a result of the Good Friday Agreement.
“Our vote and voice holds significant power in terms of the politics of this island but if this referendum is passed it will give citizens here in the north and abroad the opportunity to elect our nations President and I think this is something we should embrace and welcome.
“Given our nation’s history, a history of forced emigration people left this island in search of employment, opportunity and with the vision to create a better life for themselves.
“But they should not leave their right to select out President at Dublin Airport.
“There are 93 countries across the world which allow overseas citizens to vote.
“Ireland has one of the strictest polices on the planet where we forbid almost all expatriates from voting and I believe this needs relaxed”.
“As for us citizens in the north Irish citizens living on the island of Ireland we should be afforded a vote in the next and all future presidential elections, we haven’t left Ireland but the current system has left us behind.
“It’s a bizarre system where citizens in the north are entitled to stand to become the nation’s President but we couldn’t actually vote for ourselves”.
“I think the decision to hold this referendum is a very bold move by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his Government.
“It recognises that for a long time there has been a call from the Irish diaspora and Irish citizens here in the North to allow our voices to be heard in particular when it comes to electing the Irish president, the representative of the Irish nation as a whole.
“When I say that I don’t mean in terms of territory I mean in terms of people’s identity.
“I think this is a very unique opportunity that people here will have due to the outworking’s of the Good Friday Agreement and our ability to hold dual citizenship to expand our democratic power and expand our role in politics across the island.
“I know for certain the last few Irish Presidents took a keen interest in the North and a deep interest in the role of the Irish diaspora.
“One image that comes to mind was Mary Robinson’s contribution when she put the candle in the window Áras an Uachtaráin to say very clearly that Ireland as a country was coming of age and that the door was open and welcome for people to finally return home after centuries of having to leave this island.
“I think that was a powerful and important message which could be amplified should this referendum come to pass.
“I think if this referendum was to pass that it would send a message to the Irish people across the world that we understand you have left in search of opportunity but that we as a nation we await your return.
“I welcome the fact that this referendum will take place and sincerely hope that it passes.
“As I believe that as an Irish citizen I have the same right as those who live in the south to take part in the election of the President of my Country,” added Councillor Tierney.