Independent Senator Lynn Ruane and I today hosted twenty-five ‘Trinity Access 21’ students in Leinster House, to discuss our upcoming Electoral Amendment Bill aimed at reducing the voting age to sixteen years of age in local and European elections.

I tabled the Electoral Amendment (Voting at 16) Bill in Seanad Éireann and Senator Lynn Ruane agreed to back the bill.

Eoghan Gilroy is a Transition Year student on placement with Lynn. Eoghan was the student voice of these discussions and is also participating in the Trinity Access 21 project in Ard Scoil Laselle, Raheny.

Eoghan has developed an action research project which invites students to host school discussions on the value of being able to vote at age 16. Participating students will return to the Oireachtas in the new term and present this information for inclusion in the bill.

Young people are consistently seen as apathetic and indifferent to current and political affairs. The referendum for Scottish independence and the referendum for civil marriage equality represent a reality that is far different. Only by widening the political franchise can we really guarantee that the rights of young people stay firmly on the agenda of politicians.

In a joint statement today, Lynn said;

“It’s of the utmost importance that young people engage with politics and their local communities as early as possible and the ability to vote in local elections will be an important first step towards making this a reality. Moreover, at this crucial period for the future of the European Union, we need young people to contribute to the debate over the future of our role in that union and how best we can be represented going forward. I sincerely hope that by the 2019 local and European elections, Irish young people will be able to participate in that democratic exercise as fully enfranchised Irish citizens”.