Obama

Kenny for early May New York visit

Not all the highlight political visits in May will be taking place on Irish soil.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny will be coming to New York to attend the annual dinner of the American Ireland Fund in the first week of the month.

And, according to reports, Kenny is intent on announcing a range of initiatives that will be of particular interest to the Irish diaspora during his New York stopover.

Kenny was in the U.S. last month for St. Patrick's Day, but he spent all his time in Washington, D.C. Now he will be back on U.S. turf for the Cinco De Mayo, the Spanish name for the month being, coincidentally, the English language name for his native county.

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And though he has been in New York a number of times in the past, the May arrival will be Kenny's first in the city as taoiseach.

A "range of initiatives, some very exciting" aimed at the Irish diaspora would be unveiled soon, Kenny said during his first official visit to Britain this week.

Kenny was speaking in London following a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron in Downing Street on Monday.

He told reporters that he would be in New York for the American Ireland Fund dinner on May 5 and was likely to discuss his diaspora-related ideas further then.

Kenny is believed to be considering calling a meeting with global leaders of the diaspora for Dublin, in which economic options for the country are discussed. A similar meeting was held in Farmleigh in Dublin in 2009.

He said that the initiatives would be "very interesting and very novel" and would involve the estimated 75 million members of the diaspora worldwide.

Asked if he was considering Irish diaspora bonds, Kenny stated the bonds would have to be at a rate that "made sense" as a return for investors.

One possible initiative could be the extension of at least limited voting rights to Irish citizens in the U.s. and elsewhere overseas.

Kenny's party, Fine Gael, pledged votes for emigrants in Irish presidential election campaigns during the recent general election campaign. His government coalition partner, Labour, promised voting rights across the board in Dáil, presidential and Seanad elections.

Tanaiste (deputy prime minister) Eamon Gilmore, who was in New York for St. Patrick's Day, said that voting rights for the Irish living outside the Republic would take form in the context of broader constitutional reform that was being initiated by the government.