Warfield welcomes Minister’s statement on drug-safety testing at music festivals

Sinn Féin spokesperson for the Arts, Youth Affairs and LGBTQI rights Senator Fintan Warfield has welcomed confirmation from the government that a stakeholder-led working group will be convened by the Department of Health to examine the provision of drug safety testing at music festivals and nightclubs in 2019.

Senator Warfield said:

“During a commencement debate today with Minister Catherine Byrne on the subject of drug safety testing, the Minister confirmed that a commitment to establish a working group to investigate best-practice in drug safety testing will commence in 2019.

“According to Eurobarometer poll in 2014, use of psychoactive drugs in this state among 15-24 year olds is the highest in Europe. This has become apparent at our music festivals where the use of MDMA, ecstasy, ketamine and cocaine are all common.

Sinn Féin launch electoral and voting reform document

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Youth Affairs Senator Fintan Warfield has launched a new party policy calling for reform of the electoral and voter registration system.

‘Enhancing Democracy’ contains a number of different initiatives that a Sinn Féin government would undertake in order to encourage and foster active electoral participation across all of society.

Senator Warfield said:

“’Enhancing Democracy’ sets out how we believe the state should engage young and first time voters, as well as radical proposals that will widen electoral participation across all of society.

“The activism of young people in recent referenda is evidence that when engaged, young people demonstrate interest in participating in the political process. This is despite the obstacles that exist, including a lack of formal education, promotion and difficulties in registering to vote.

Harm reduction services at festivals should include drug-safety testing

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Youth Affairs, the Arts and LGBT rights, Senator Fintan Warfield has today commended the Ana Liffey Drug Project and Electric Picnic who will facilitate a harm-reduction service at Stradbally this weekend.

Senator Warfield said;

“The provision of educational materials on drugs and alcohol, as well as one-to-one advice and referrals are an important part of a health-led response to drug and alcohol use – but we can do more.

“Harm-reduction services at festivals should be allowed to include confidential drug safety testing facilities for festival goers who consider using drugs.

“Sinn Féin believe that the success of harm-reduction initiatives abroad that offer confidential drug safety testing at music festivals confirm the need for similar initiatives at Irish music festivals.

Senator Fintan Warfield welcomes Facebook announcement banning referendum ads from abroad

Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield has welcomed the announcement today that Facebook will ban all paid advertising from outside the State during the ongoing referendum campaign.

Senator Warfield said:

“The move by Facebook today follows revelations that substantial amounts of money are being directed into adverts targeting voters in the referendum. Such advertisements   purport to be fact-based, objective websites, however, such advertisements favour the ‘no’ side of the referendum campaign.

“Last week in an unprecedented move, Facebook reached out to the government in relation to fake news during a public vote. 

Review of Relationships and Sexuality Education welcome, but must include young people with disabilities

Sinn Féin spokesperson for the arts, youth affairs and LGBTQI rights, Senator Fintan Warfield has welcomed the announcement today that the Department of Education and Skills has ordered a review of the Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) in schools.

This review has been stated to include LGBTQ+ aspects of the curriculum as well as modules on consent and contraception.

Senator Warfield said:

“The review announced today is sorely needed. It has become apparent in recent months being reflected in the ancillary recommendations of the Citizen’s Assembly, Joint Committee on the 8th Amendment and is the top priority of the LGBTI+ Youth Strategy.

Fianna Fáil defy their own policy to reject Sinn Féin’s ‘Vote at 16’ bill

Sinn Féin spokesperson for the Arts, Youth Affairs and LGBTQI rights, Senator Fintan Warfield has condemned the Fianna Fáil party, as for the second time, they have voted to scupper the Electoral (Amendment) (Voting at 16) Bill 2016.

The bill seeks to lower the voting age to 16 for local and European elections. This is despite Fianna Fáil holding a policy that explicitly states they support the voting age being reduced to 16 for the 2019 local elections.

Senator Warfield said:

“I entirely condemn the actions taken by Fianna Fáil today. They submitted amendments that would make ‘Votes at 16’ an impossibility for the 2019 local and European elections. 

Legislation to lower the voting age returns to the Seanad tomorrow

Sinn Féin spokesperson for youth affairs, Senator Fintan Warfield will reintroduce legislation for committee stage in the Seanad tomorrow [Wednesday, 21st March] that seeks to lower the voting age to sixteen in Local and European elections.

The Bill was first debated in the Seanad in March 2017 when Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil voted to delay its progress until this year.

Senator Warfield said:

“I look forward to bringing this legislation back to the Seanad in the hope that it can be enacted before the 2019 Local and European elections, in order to allow up to 120,000 young people aged 16 and 17 years to have their say on the future of Europe and the direction of local democracy.

‘Vote at 16’ referendum swept under the carpet again

Reacting to An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s referenda plans, Sinn Féin spokesperson for the arts, youth affairs and LGBTQI rights Senator Fintan Warfield has criticised the government for failing to uphold their Constitutional Convention mandate to hold a referendum on reducing the voting age from 18 to 16.

Senator Warfield said:

“It has been over four years since the Constitution Convention recommended that the State should consider reducing the voting age to sixteen.

Census results highlight serious trouble ahead

Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield has stated the need for a serious conversation about Ireland’s future population projections and the underlying issues that these forecast, given the publication of Census 2016 figures on the age profile of Ireland, saying that “there has been very little effort to address the issue of youth emigration or provisions put in place to encourage our emigrant’s home”.

Senator Warfield highlighted that the number of people between the ages of 20-34 has decreased by 119,252, a fall of 12%.

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael block ‘Vote at 16’ until 2018

Sinn Féin spokesperson for the Arts, Youth Affairs and LGBTQI Rights Senator Fintan Warfield has expressed his disappointment that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have worked together to block the Electoral Amendment (Voting at 16) Bill 2016 until 2018, despite their commitments to work towards lowering the voting age.

Senator Warfield said:

“In a bizarre turn of events, Fianna Fáil claimed that they support the bill ‘in principle’, but supported a Government amendment to delay the Bill until 2018, making it impossible to enact in time for the 2019 Local and European elections and, in essence, voting against their own party policy to appease Fine Gael.

Bill to give 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote

Senator Fintan Warfield will use Sinn Féin Private Members’ Time on Wednesday 29th March, to bring forward legislation that will allow the voting age in Local Government and European Parliament elections to be reduced to sixteen years of age.

Senator Warfield said:

“Our amendment Bill titled; Electoral (Voting at 16) Bill 2016, seeks to lower the voting age from 18 to 16 for Local and European elections. This Bill is timely in advance of the 2019 Local and European elections, particularly given an official endorsement by the European Parliament to support voting at 16 in European Parliament elections and a recommendation of the Constitutional Convention in 2013.

Senator Warfield encourages young people to get registered to vote

Sinn Féin Seanad spokesperson for the arts, youth affairs and LGBTQI rights, Senator Fintan Warfield is encouraging young people to people to get registered before the 25th November deadline, particularly if you have turned 18 or are turning 18 before February 15th.

Senator Warfield said:

“It is increasingly important that young people get registered to vote and have their say on issues that affect them on a daily basis. Austerity hurt young people, damaged their future here, and the ‘recovery’ has yet to be felt by the majority.

“When you consider the Marriage Equality Referendum turnout, it is evident that young people can mobilise in massive numbers.

“I’m encouraging young people to get registered to vote, to ensure their concerns are on the political agenda and to demand a better future.

“You can download a registration from and check your details on www.checktheregister.ie”

Young job seekers continue to face discrimination on the basis of age

While there is an increase to the weekly rate of Jobseekers Allowance, a policy of age discrimination continues.

Young people aged between 18 and 24 will see an increase of €2.70, bringing the weekly payment to €102.70, while 25 year olds will receive an increase of €3.80 from €144 to €147.80.

Lynn Ruane and I hosted ‘Trinity Access 21’ Students in Leinster House today

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”.

Referendum to extend presidential voting rights should include our young people

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.