16 and 17-year-old should not be allowed to vote because they have a 'very black and white view of the world.'
That's according to Social Care Ireland Spokesperson Noel Howard, who was speaking amid ongoing debate around changing the voting age from 18.
It comes as Belgium and Germany have joined Austria, Greece and Malta in allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in the 2024 European elections.
Proposals to lower the voting are among the key priorities of a new Electoral Commission - along with plans for expanding postal voting.
Social activist Caillum Hedderman told Newstalk Breakfast lowering the age would be "a very positive step."
"It strengthens democracy - if 16 and 17-year-olds are given the right to vote, it creates a larger demographic that votes," he said.
"This encourages lifelong voting... if I start voting at 16, I think I'd be more encouraged to take it up as a habit.
"It incentivises turnout across the board - if I was out voting at 16 and 17, my grandmother would be more likely to get out and vote.
"We've maybe slightly differing political opinions and different priorities as well".
'Leaders of social movements'
Mr Hedderman said young people are more engaged with what is going on around them than ever before.
"When you look at young people in the last five years, they're the leaders of many of the social movements that we're seeing in Ireland," he said.
"They're facing many of the crises as well - whether it's the cost of living or whether it's the climate crisis".
SCI spokesman Noel Howard said giving the vote to younger people is a contradiction.
"A 16 or 17-year-old can't buy a lottery ticket, they can't buy cigarettes, they can't buy alcohol, they can't get married, they can't get a mortgage, they can't get a legal contract," he said.
"Yet there is a move suggesting, that despite all that, one of the most important things an adult will ever do in this country is exercise their franchise vote.
"It seems contradictory that the reasons that exist for the restrictions that I've outlined there do not seem to apply or be considered when you come to [vote]".
Mr Hedderman said this movement is not actually new.
"There's been bills and motions on the floor of the Seanad and the Dáil in relation to lowering the voting age to 16," he said.
"What's being called for with the vote at 16 debate is that we trial this with local and European elections.
"Change must be tested".
Mr Howard said he believes there is an element of 'political exploitation' involved.
"I think politicians will take advantage of it," he said.
"They will exploit the enthusiasm and the idealism of young people.
"I think it's helpful to certain parties within the Dáil to have the voting age lowered, because I think there is evidence... that adolescence in fact is quite delayed.
"There is a view that... people at that age have a very, very black and white view of the world," he added.
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