Should the voting age in Ireland be lowered to 16? 2 months ago

Should the voting age in Ireland be lowered to 16?

"I think we're actually more informed, sometimes, than certain adults."

A public debate has arisen surrounding the legal age of the right to vote in Ireland following the publication of a report from the Children's Rights Alliance.

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Voice, Rights, Action! is a research report published by the group with research from UCD School of Education, as well as research from children aged between 12 and 17.

The report recommended that children should receive mandatory education on their rights, that all schools should protect and respect the rights of children regardless of their ethos, and that the voting age should be lowered to 16.

"This report is a timely message to those of us in the community and voluntary sector as well as those in Government," said Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of Children's Rights Alliance.

"Now is the time to give children and young people a true voice in our political system and lower the voting age to 16."

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At 16, children's rights include;

  • the right to leave school.
  • the right to leave home
  • the right to full-time employment.
  • the right to drive vehicles such as mopeds, motorbikes, and work vehicles, such as a JCB.
  • the right to own a dog licence.
  • the right to apply for a firearms certificate.
  • the right to be charged with a criminal offence.

Angelica Foley, an 18-year-old activist with Fridays for Freedom, said that the new voting age will be the precedent across Europe soon.

"If you look across Europe, the voting age is 16, places like Scotland, Guernsey and Jersey, and as well in Belgium, from 2024, 16-year-olds will have the vote, so I think it's becoming pretty standard and it's going to become more common in the future," Foley said on Newstalk on Tuesday (26 April).

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Foley acknowledged arguments that children at 16 may be impressionable and may not make well-informed voting decisions, but suggested that the education people at that age get in secondary school could make them more informed than some adults.

"It's important to remember that in school, if you choose to, there's a lot of education there about politics already," she added.

"CSPE educated us on the voting system, and I think we're actually more informed, sometimes, than certain adults.

"When it comes to voting, there's no exam you have to pass to be able to vote, you don't have to be able to read or write.

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"The argument that young people are impressionable, while I understand it, I think we should be able to deserve to vote because a lot of us are educated.

"I know social media is derided all the time, but we have access to a lot of information, and we are very well informed."