Saturday 23 September 2017

Coalition planning referendum to reduce voting age

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

THE Government is going to hold a referendum on reducing the voting age to 16, even though many ministers think the reduction from the current age of 18 is "bonkers".

The Coalition is planning a 'Constitution Day', that will see a number of proposals put to the public.

If the voting-age proposal was to be accepted, it would come into effect in time for the next general election, due in 2016. The referendum won't be held this year and the timeframe planned is sometime "before the end of 2015".

The vote follows a recommendation of the think tank examining the Constitution.

The Cabinet yesterday discussed the first report of the Convention on the Constitution, which also decided to recommend leaving the presidential term alone, at seven years.

"The rough plan is to have a 'Constitution Day' putting the recommendations to the public as convention proposals, rather than government proposals. Most of us think 16 is bonkers but there would be no point in having the convention if we don't put the ideas to the people," a Government source said.

Government sources say the decision was taken in principle, but still requires "further discussion".

The Convention is made up of 100 members – a third politicians and two-thirds members of the public.

When the convention makes a recommendation, the Government has four months to respond and if it is accepted, it goes to a referendum.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan will issue the Coalition's official response to the recommendation later this week.

MARRIAGE

The convention also recommended a referendum on gay marriage and the Government will have to respond on that front in the autumn.

The members voted by a narrow margin of 52pc to reduce the voting age.

The convention also voted against reducing the age of candidacy, and also against reducing the voting age for some types of elections.

Members also voted against reducing the presidential term, by 57pc to 43pc.

The members also voted by 94pc to 6pc for citizens to be given a say in the nomination of presidential candidates, and for reducing the age of presidential candidates from 35.

Irish Independent

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