You are here

Voting at 16: youth groups express disappointment as Seanad delays Bill to extend voting rights

Wednesday, March 29, 2017 - 20:15
  • Democracy delayed is democracy denied, says Youth Council
  • Disappointed at unnecessary delay, but the #VoteAt16 campaign goes on

The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) – which represents organisations working with over 380,000 young people nationwide – has expressed disappointment that a Bill to extend the Vote to young people aged 16 and 17 was stymied this evening (29.03.17) after the Seanad voted 29-21 in favour of an amendment to delay consideration of the Bill until December 2017.

James Doorley, NYCI Deputy Director said: “Democracy delayed is democracy denied - and with this amendment the Government has kicked the can down the road on this issue yet again. The timing is particularly frustrating as losing nine months will make it very difficult for any change in legislation to be in effect in time for the 2019 Local and European Elections.”

The Electoral (Amendment) Voting at 16 Bill 2016, sponsored by Senators Warfield, Ruane and Mac Lochlainn, would have seen voting rights extended to young people aged 16 and 17 in Local and European Elections.

Unnecessary delay

According to Mr Doorley this delay was unnecessary: “While the issue is important, it is not complex. The Constitutional Convention examined all the issues with regard to changing the voting age in 2013 and supported extending voting rights. The question tonight was whether the Government supported extending voting rights to young people for the Local and European elections in 2019.

“If the Government had concerns they could have commissioned a report within three months and the Bill could have been passed by the Seanad before the summer recess. By delaying consideration of the Bill in the Seanad for nine months, taking the time needed to pass the legislation in the Seanad and Dáil after that, it will now be very challenging to get the legislation on the statute books in time to allow local authorities the time to register young people for the elections in mid-2019.

Disappointed but the #VoteAt16 campaign goes on

“We do welcome the fact that Minister English indicated that the Government was not wholly opposed to the bill, but wanted more time to engage in discussions on the impact and consequences of the legislation, we will be more than happy to engage with Government and the opposition in the coming months to progress the legislation. While the timetable is now very difficult it is not impossible. We are very disappointed, but the campaign will continue,” concluded Mr Doorley.

More information about the NYCI campaign can be found at www.voteat16.ie.

ENDS

For further information, please contact Daniel Meister, Communications Manager at NYCI on 087 781 4903 or 01 425 5955 or email communications@nyci.ie

 

Notes to Editors:

National Youth Council of Ireland

The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) is a membership-led umbrella organisation that represents and supports the interests of voluntary youth organisations and uses its collective experience to act on issues that impact on young people.