Limerick students make call to reduce voting age to 16

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

THE question of reducing the voting age from 18 to 16 was on the agenda at a summit attended by two local students.

THE question of reducing the voting age from 18 to 16 was on the agenda at a summit attended by two local students.

Ciara O’Donoghue, 17, a fifth year student at Crescent Comprehensive College, and Stu Clancy, 17, from Ard Scoil Ris represented the Limerick Youth Service at the Constitutional Convention in Dublin.

With Ireland having one of the youngest populations in Europe, Ciara believes it makes sense for politicians to engage with young people from an early age.

“If a 16-year-old can leave school, seek full-time employment and pay tax, why can we not vote and have a say in issues that affect us,” she asked.

She pointed out the main political parties also allow membership from the age of 15 in their Ogra branches.

“So the parties recognise the importance of engaging young people as early as possible,” she added.

Stu argued that research shows that voting is habitual - therefore, if you engage with people at a younger age it can become part of their lives.

If it is not ingrained into them, they could “fall through the administrative cracks”, he said.

Asked about the arguments against voting at 16, such as not being informed or mature enough, Ciara argued that these excuses were put forward by those opposed to allowing women to vote.

“In 1973 the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 in a referendum, while in Austria and the Isle of Man it is 16,,” she stated.

Limerick Youth Service has welcomed the debate, with a spokesman stating: “We remain committed to supporting and encouraging young people to be active participants in shaping their futures.”