Independent TD Mattie McGrath has welcomed the recommendations of the Constitutional Convention to lower the voting age from 18 to 16. It is among a series of proposals from the convention, which also wants to lower the minimum age for presidential candidates from 35 to 21.
“I think the recommendation of the Convention represents a very positive step forward. We need to try out new and diverse ways to draw our young people into a having a deeper sense of being active participants in our democracy. Most young people are caring thoughtful individuals who have the capacity to bring the challenges of growing up to the awareness of our political system. That can only be a good thing. Indeed I know that organisations like Foróige, which one of my own daughters is involved in have also welcomed this recommendation. This is an organisation which seeks to enable young people to involve themselves consciously and actively in their own development and the development of society. I believe the lowering of the voting age will certainly help in that regard. We only have to look to Austria which reduced the voting age some years ago and which has seen a noticeable rise in positive youth participation in political debate, the same can happen here.”
While Government ministers and the Taoiseach have broadly accepted the proposal by the Constitutional Convention, the Taoiseach said yesterday that any referendum on the issue will not occur until at least 2015:
“The Government has already decided to hold simultaneous referendum’s on the establishment of the Court of Appeal and the abolition of the Seanad later this year. I fail to see why they cannot hold a similar referendum on lowering the voting age at the same time. This would allow our young people an opportunity to vote in the European and local elections. It is my firm hope that this will happen,” said Deputy McGrath.