Reduction of voting age from 18 to 16 to be put to referendum
Cabinet accepts three of four recommendations made by constitutional convention
The Government has accepted the recommendation of the constitutional convention to lower the voting age from 18 to 16 and has committed that the matter will be put to referendum during the lifetime of this administration.
The Cabinet, at its weekly meeting yesterday, decided to accept three of the four major recommendations that emerged from the first session of the convention in January.
The convention is comprised of 66 citizens and 33 politicians and is chaired by former head of Concern Tom Arnold. It has been asked to deliberate on a range of issues that might merit constitutional change.
Ministers also agreed that a referendum be held on the recommendation that the minimum age requirement for a president be reduced from 35 to 21. The Cabinet accepted another conclusion of the convention that the presidential term should remain at seven years and not be reduced to five.
The one major departure of Cabinet from the convention report is its rejection of its recommendation that ordinary citizens have a role in the nomination process in a presidential election.
At present, a person cannot become a candidate for a presidential election unless they are supported by at least 20 Oireachtas members or by four local authorities. The argument was made by former candidate Senator David Norris that it tended to exclude those from outside political parties. The recommendation was overwhelmingly supported by 94 per cent of delegates.
By contrast, the result for the reduction in voting age was marginal, 52 per cent to 47.
As a concession, the issue is being referred to the Oireachtas environment committee for further discussion.
“It was felt that the current system where nominations are made through elected representatives is a democratic process,” said a source.