At 16 you can leave school, work, pay tax - why not vote?
Farrell says it’s difficult to know whether a lower voting age would have a major effect on Irish politics. Polling shows young Irish voters tend to gravitate towards left-wing candidates, so “at least in the short term you might see a greater impact in votes for independents or votes for alternative parties . . . That’s possible, but it’s really hard to know.”
And is it likely to happen any time soon? The recommendation of the Convention on the Constitution will go to the Oireachtas for deliberation, with a formal response expected within two months. Eventually the matter could be put to the people.
“We’re committed to debating in a short period the issues that arise and the decisions of the convention,” says Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald. “I’m favourably disposed to [lowering the voting age] myself, because I see it as empowering young people.”
Yay or nay? Should the voting age be lowered?
Holly Casey, Lucan, 17:“It would be good if it’s reduced, but personally, I don’t really care about politics, so even if it was reduced I’m not sure if I’d be bothered to actually vote. I’m not sure how many people would be interested in voting at that age. If our awareness was brought up about it then sure. But I’m happy waiting until I’m a proper adult.”
Simon Odekunle, Lucan, 16:“Sixteen-year-olds should be allowed to vote because in a lot of other respects we’re treated like adults. We’re considered mature enough for those type of things, so why can’t we be considered to be mature enough to vote? I want to have my opinion heard . . . and if I did have the vote I would vote maturely.”
Fergus McArdle, Naas, 18:“I definitely think it shouldn’t be changed to 16 . . . People over 18 already don’t know what they’re voting for, and to give a decision like that to 16-year-olds is probably a bad idea. It probably should be increased to 21. [In school] we learned how the Irish political system was structured, but I didn’t really learn about the direction of any of the parties.”