Legislation that paves the way for a referendum on extending voting rights to Irish citizens living abroad in presidential elections has been published.

The referendum on the 39th Amendment of the Constitution is expected to take place later this year.

If the proposal is passed it would allow Irish people living outside the State to vote in the next presidential election which is scheduled to take place in 2025.

The publication of the legislation was this evening welcomed by the Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald.

She said Irish citizens living in the north and amongst Ireland's diaspora have long campaigned for voting rights.