Sinn Féin Senator and spokesperson for youth affairs, the arts, and LGBTQI rights, Fintan Warfield has welcomed the commitment made by Minister Joe McHugh that a referendum is to be held on granting voting rights to Irish citizens abroad for the purpose of Presidential elections.

The Senator has called on government to commit to a referendum on extending voting rights to those who have reached 16 years of age, as advised by the Constitutional Convention three years ago.

Senator Warfield said;

“I welcome the commitment made by Minister Joe McHugh that a referendum is to be held on granting voting rights to Irish citizens abroad, for the purpose of Presidential elections.

“It is hugely disappointing, that despite the Constitutional Convention recommending a lowered voting age of 16, no commitment has been made with regards a referendum on the issue since 2013.

“Too often, young people are excluded from a conversation and narrative that concerns their lives.  Voting rights for those who have reached the age of 16 will increase the likelihood of greater political representation and the legislative protection of their rights.

“I’m calling on the Government to commit to a referendum on extending voting rights to those who have reached 16 years of age.

“I would also like reiterate the call of Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams TD, that any referendum concerning voting rights for citizens resident outside of this state, must include those living in the six counties.

“Yesterday, my Bill was introduced, co-sponsored by Senators Lynn Ruane and Pádraig MacLochlainn, which would legislate for those who have reached the age of 16 to vote in Local and European Parliament elections.”

Note to editor:

Senator Warfield expressed concern that a written, ministerial response from Simon Coveney TD (dated July 5th, 2016), included no mention of extending Presidential voting rights as outlined by Minister Joe McHugh.

PQ response from Minister Simon Coveney:

“A Programme for A Partnership Government proposes that a number of referendums be held, these include referendums on:

§ Article 41.2.1 of the constitution regarding a “woman’s life within the home”;

§ The question of amending Article 40.6.1(i) of the Constitution to remove the offence of blasphemy;

§ Ireland’s participation in the Universal Patent Court; and

§ Giving the Office of the Ceann Comhairle constitutional standing.

There are no immediate plans to hold a referendum on lowering the voting age.”