Maria Kelly from Carrickbeg, County Waterford, was among those who took part in the recent launch of the National Youth Council of Ireland’s nationwide “Vote at 16 – A New Age in Voting” campaign outside the Dáil.
“I find lowering the voting age to sixteen an extremely important issue for Irish teenagers,” she said. “As a teenager myself I think it is only fair that young people, are entitled to the right to vote. Sixteen-year-olds are Irish citizens just like their 18-year-old peers who are eligible to vote.
“I believe every young person from the age of sixteen should have the opportunity to vote as this would banish a vast amount of the negativity and apathy which surrounds young people and politics. Why should young people have a firm interest in something they can’t be involved in?
“With the right to vote comes the ability to decide which politicians will represent us,” Maria added. “At the ages of 16 and 17 you can pay taxes, get married, work full-time, leave school or be detained at a detention centre so why not have the right to vote?
James Doorley, Assistant Director at NYCI, said: “The key reason why so many young people do not engage in the political process is because they are disillusioned with politicians and political parties who ignore them and their issues. In addition, the Irish voter registration system is very outdated and on turning 18 many people are not registered in time to vote.
“By reducing the voting age you would engage young people in the political process much earlier and enable registration at a time when they are still in school,” he argues.