Senator Fintan Warfield will use Sinn Féin Private Members’ Time this Wednesday to bring forward legislation that will allow the voting age in Local Government and European Parliament elections to be reduced to sixteen years of age.
The former Lord Mayor of South Dublin said it is time the voices of younger people be heard by those in power.
“Our amendment Bill titled; Electoral (Voting at 16) Bill 2016, seeks to lower the voting age from 18 to 16 for Local and European elections.
“This Bill is timely in advance of the 2019 Local and European elections, particularly given an official endorsement by the European Parliament to support voting at 16 in European Parliament elections and a recommendation of the Constitutional Convention in 2013.
“The referendum for Scottish independence and the referendum for civil marriage equality represent a reality that young people are at the cutting edge of change.
“Their voices must begin to be heard by our political representatives, who at times have proven themselves to be out of touch with young people, and in turn struggle to hold their political representatives to account.
“Only by widening the political franchise can we guarantee that the rights of young people stay firmly on the agenda of politicians.”
Independent Senator and Tallaght native Lynn Ruane said she is seconding the Bill:
“It’s a sad fact that it is young people who are most affected by political decisions taken today but have no voice in who makes those decisions for them.
“Inclusion of Irish citizens between the ages of 16 and 18 in the democratic process is the only way this will ever change.
“This Bill is a crucial first step in realising a stronger and more vibrant democratic contract between the Irish people and our European political representation and local government structures.
“Reducing the voting age for local government is vital to ensure the full engagement of young people with local politics and their local communities. Moreover, during this crucial period for the future of the European Union, we need young people to have a voice in deciding our future role in a post-Brexit EU.
“The Government have recently demonstrated a commitment to broadening democratic participation, with the recent announcement of the referendum to extend presidential voting rights to our diaspora. In the same spirit, we ask that they ensure the speedy passage of this legislation through the Oireachtas.”