Convention favours lowering voting age

Sun, Jan 27, 2013, 00:00

The Constitutional Convention has voted in favour of lowering the voting age, but rejected reducing the presidential term from seven to five years.

A ballot was held at the Grand Hotel in Malahide in Dublin this morning, following submissions from interested groups and individuals yesterday.

Fifty-two per cent of the 100 delegates attending voted to reduce the voting age to 17 years. Forty-seven per cent voted No and just one delegate had no opinion.

Of those in favour, 48 per cent said they wanted the age lowered to 16, while 39 per cent selected 17.

A motion to reduce the presidential term from seven years to five was rejected by 57 votes to 43, but delegates voted overwhelmingly to give citizens a say in nominating candidates for the presidency.

Ninety-four per cent said Irish people should have a role in nominations. Six per cent disagreed and no delegates opted for the “no opinion’’ category.

Former presidential candidate Senator David Norris, a delegate, described the vote as “quite stunning”, adding that he personally welcomed the vote.

There was a tie on the question of whether the office should be one seven-year term, with 44 per cent agreeing, the same number disagreeing, and 12 per cent saying they did not know.

The 100-person convention is made up of 66 citizens, randomly selected and broadly representative of Irish society, 33 parliamentarians from the Republic and the north, and chairman Tom Arnold.

At the conclusion of the two-day session, Mr Arnold said it had been a productive weekend, with business done properly and respectfully and with good humour.

"Today was the first stage in the process of allowing ordinary Irish people to have a meaningful input into some of the most important civic and social matters facing society," Mr Arnold said.

"I believe we witnessed real citizen focused democracy whereby people considered all aspects of the debate before deciding on their own preferences. We will continue this initiative in the coming months when we examine issues such as same sex marriage and electoral systems.”

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