Votes at 16
Northern Ireland Youth Forum welcomes votes at 16 Debate
Representatives of the NI Youth forum today welcomed news that following their meeting with MLAs this month, a joint Sinn Fein/Green Party motion urging the lowering of the voting age to 16 will be debated in the assembly in November. At the latest AGM, members of the youth forum voted overwhelmingly to campaign for a change in electoral law that would allow 16 year olds to vote in all elections.
Since then, a working group of young people from across the region has been lobbying elected representatives to add their weight to the call for votes at 16. So far politicians from every party apart from the UUP, which has said it hasn’t yet formed a position, have agreed to lend their support.
Campaigns officer, Martin McAuley had this to say:
“It’s hugely encouraging that our politicians have listened to what young people are saying and are bringing this motion before the assembly chamber.”
“In the last fortnight we’ve met with Phil Flannagan, Paul Maskey and Megan Fearon of Sinn Fein, Naomi Long of the Alliance Party and Ian Paisley junior of the DUP. All have been very sympathetic to reducing the voting age and site the rules of the Scottish independence referendum as a game changer. There has been no better time to call for this significant political investment in our young people.”
“16 is the age at which young people start the transition into adulthood. They can get a job, leave education, pay taxes, get married, consent to medical treatment or start a family; we can no longer ignore these facts nor continue to exclude them from democracy”
In the coming weeks, the youth forum will step up the campaign to grant young people active suffrage and looks forward to engaging with all interested groups to make this a reality.