Wednesday 18 January 2017

Coalition set for defeat on President age vote

Published 19/05/2015 | 02:30

Tanaiste Joan Burton
Tanaiste Joan Burton

The Government looks set to lose the referendum on reducing the age to be a presidential candidate from 35 to 21 years due to apathy among politicians and voters.

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There has been little public discussion around the issue, which will be put to the electorate this Friday following a recommendation from the Referendum Commission.

In Leinster House, politicians on both sides of the Coalition and in opposition have rejected the referendum as a waste of time and of little national importance.

Fine Gael and Labour TDs have admitted privately they will be voting 'No' at the ballot box.

An Ipsos MRBI poll taken last week found more than three-in-five of those surveyed are against reducing the age for presidential candidates.

Almost half of those polled who were between 18 and 24 years old said they did not want the Constitution changed to allow a younger president to be voted into office.

Just a quarter of those polled said they would vote in favour of the reducing the age.

Tánaiste Joan Burton suggested last weekend she expected to see the referendum defeated. However, she noted that 21-year-olds can become TDs.

The Labour Party previously said it would not be taking a position on the presidential age debate, preferring instead to focus on the Marriage Equality Referendum.

Fine Gael is pushing for a 'Yes' vote but the campaign is seen as secondary to securing a change to the Constitution to allow same-sex marriages.

There is very little campaigning on the issue and there are very few, if any, posters on lampposts advocating for a vote on either side debate

Atheist Ireland is one of the only groups calling for a 'No' vote, as they argue that an atheist cannot become president, not matter what age they are, because they would not be able to swear an oath to God if voted into office. Fianna Fáil councillor Jim O'Callaghan has also called for a 'No' vote.

Irish Independent

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