There are many issues facing 16 and 17-year-olds that they deserve a vote on, according to an advocate for lowering the voting age in Ireland.
It comes after Fianna Fáil Senator Malcolm Byrne again called for the voting age to lowered to 16-years-old.
Speaking in the Seanad yesterday, Senator Byrne quoted Bob Dylan’s ‘The Times they are a-Changin’ in calling for the age to be lowered in time for the local and European elections in 2024.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Caillum Hedderman, an 18-year-old spokesperson for the National Youth Council of Ireland, said younger people have a right to have their say on national issues.
“If we look at someone at the age of 16 or even 17, you have so many Statutory responsibilities already that begin at that age,” he said.
“You can leave school, you can seek full-time employment, you can apply for your driver’s licence but then when you look at the political sphere …
“I know we are seeing debate on it at the minute but it has actually been talked about for the last ten years. We held a Constitutional [Convention] back in 2013 and it advised that we would extend the age to 16.
“The Government at the time accepted that and the Government at each stage since then has done as well.”
The Constitutional Convention called for a referendum on lowering the voting age; however, that has yet to happen.
“Fundamentally, there are many issues facing 16 and 17-year-olds that they do need a vote on,” said Mr Hedderman.
“They deserve an institutionalised say in who votes for them.”
Programme for Government
The Programme for Government contains a commitment to examining the experience in Scotland since the voting age was reduced to 16 and, in the Seanad, the Minister of State for electoral reform Malcolm Noonan said the Government would “explore every avenue” to ensure a reduction is considered in time for the 2024 elections.
Eighteen remains the norm when it comes to voting ages across Europe and much of the world; however, Austria reduced the age in 2007 and younger people also enjoy the vote in Argentina, Brazil, Scotland, Malta and for some elections in Wales.
You can listen back to Mr Hedderman here: