The National Youth Council of Ireland’s Vote at 16 campaign group met with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution on January 13th 2010 to urge the Government to reduce the voting age.
In the revised Programme for Government last year a commitment was made for an Independent Electoral Commission to look at extending the franchise of voting to young people of 16 & 17 in local elections.
“The commitment by Government to look at reducing the voting age is a step in the right direction. However, one of the main issues with the current voting system is registration. We believe this system needs to be overhauled to make it easier for young people to register and vote. Tomorrow we will advise the Committee on why the voting age should be reduced for all elections and re-emphasise the urgent need for the issues with the registration system to be addressed,” stated Mary Cunningham, Director of the National Youth Council of Ireland.
Maria Kelly, a member of the youth campaign group said: “I believe that lowering the voting age to sixteen an extremely important issue for Irish teenagers. I think it is only fair that young people are entitled to the right to vote. Sixteen year olds are Irish Citizens just like their eighteen year old peers who are eligible to vote. I believe every young person from the age of sixteen should have the opportunity to vote as this would banish a vast amount of the negativity and apathy which surrounds young people and politics. Why should young people have a firm interest in something they can't be involved in? With the right to vote comes the ability to decide which politicians will represent us”.
Ms. Cunningham concluded: “Since we launched our campaign in January 2009 the issue has received extensive political and media attention. Like our European counterparts we want to give young people the opportunity to have a say in things that affect them and influence policies that are important and relevant to Irish youth”.
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Notes to Editors:
National Youth Council of Ireland
The National Youth Council of Ireland is a membership-led umbrella organisation that represents and supports the interests of 55 voluntary youth organisations and uses its collective experience to act on issues that impact on young people.