A referendum is to be held on whether to allow Irish citizens living abroad to vote in presidential elections.
The move, if passed in a referendum, will see the numbers entitled to vote increase by hundreds of thousands and possibly millions.
Among those who will be able to participate in choosing the president are Irish passport holders in Northern Ireland.
While a date has not being set for the referendum, Taoiseach Enda Kenny confirmed the Cabinet has formally decided to hold one.
Speaking in Philadelphia, Mr Kenny said: “Today’s announcement is a profound recognition of the importance that Ireland attaches to all of our citizens, wherever they may be.
“It is an opportunity for us to make our country stronger by allowing all of our citizens resident outside the State, including our emigrants, to vote in future presidential elections.”
President Michael D Higgins’s seven year term ends next year, with an election likely in October or November 2018.