It is exasperating that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have refused to support Voting Rights for Youth. The legislation was presented by Sinn Féin in the Seanad last week to enable 16 year olds to vote in the next Local and European Elections.
Fianna Fáil abstained in the vote to allow it to pass to the next stage and the bill is now effectively dead. During that debate the only Fianna Fáil senator that spoke stressed they are in favour of giving 16 year olds voting rights, yet when it came to matching actions with promises, they failed outright. They failed those young people who voted for them believing they would fulfil their promises.
This bill was drawn up by my colleague, Senator Fintan Warfield. This bill represents many months of engagement with young people, youth representative groups and student bodies. It was very evident from this process itself that young people are very aware of political developments and they are eager to participate in making decisions on our future. That in itself is evidence enough of their suitability to vote in elections.
Voting Rights for 16 years olds is a Fianna Fáil policy. People are no doubt confused whether Fianna Fáil policy represents what they actually will deliver upon. To be clear, it was in Fianna Fail’s power to make last week’s bill pass and they refused to do this. To come out in support of what they refused to vote for is insulting the intelligence of those many young people who are following this debate closely. Fianna Fail are again talking out of both sides of their mouths.