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Stanley welcomes Government acceptance of Sinn Féin Bill to lower voting age to 16

6 February, 2015 - by Brian Stanley TD

Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley introduced a Bill this morning proposing that a referendum be held to seek approval for the lowering of the voting age from 18 to 16. The Bill was not opposed by the Government. The Laois/Offaly TD said that such a referendum could be held on the same day, with no extra cost, as the referendum to lower the age at which a person may stand for the Presidency.

Deputy Stanley said:

“I welcome the fact that the Government is not going to oppose this Bill, and hope that they bring it forward to Committee in time to allow a referendum to be held in May.

“Much interest was expressed in the Scottish referendum on independence due to the fact that 16 year olds were allowed to vote. That was a huge success in relation to the turnout figure, and in generating interest and participation in the debate by young people.

“There is wide support for lowering the voting age here, from a cross section of youth organisations and others.  There was a widespread expectation that the Government would hold a referendum following its referral of proposals regarding voting age to the Constitutional Convention. However, despite the Convention recommending the lowering of the voting age to 16, the Government decided not to put the proposition to a referendum.

“While the Government parties have said they were in favour of setting 17 as the qualifying age, which is something that they can propose at Committee stage.  At the end of the day, it is something that should be put to the electorate and allow them to have the final say. That could be done as early as May, with the proposition put on the same day as the proposal to lower the age for Presidential candidates.” 

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