Tuesday 24 January 2017

A 21-year-old president wouldn't be a child emperor

Published 10/05/2015 | 02:30

Mary Robinson and PAul Newman
Mary Robinson and PAul Newman

As the referendum on reducing the presidential age of eligibility from 35 to 21 gets ever closer, it's fast becoming one of the stalwart 'debates headed for a fight' at my local pub, where, I can assure you, there's no shortage of opinion.

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The obvious arguments against lowering the age are that a person so young lacks the experience to occupy such an important role and, that it could be the start of a very slippery slope leading to terrifying thoughts of teenage presidents. However, I find myself squarely on the opposite side of this debate. Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne at just 25 and has spent a lifetime admirably representing her country. Personally, I find the notion of young, fresh leadership intriguing.

Some have attacked the referendum as pandering to the youth at the expense of the presidency. I don't see it that way. Today's youth has grown up with stories of the woeful state of affairs pre-Celtic Tiger, and has spent the better part of the last decade watching the economy collapse. It's left them jaded and disenchanted with any notion of politics. Today's youth aren't interested in voting for their daddy's generation of leaders, who have already let them down, they want someone who has the pulse of the new generation, someone who'll make them listen again.

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