Sunday, 20 February 2011

The Irish Elections - What I want from the next Government - No 6 Lower the voting age gradually

No 6 Lower the voting age

For years the age at which we were entitled to vote was 21. It is now 18. This means that anyone under 18 has no say whatever in how our country is governed.

Students enter post-primary school at 11 or 12. Who dares to think that the vast majority of those who leave primary school at that age are not mentally capable of a mature decision on how they themselves are governed?

Children's lives are affected by Government decisions. Irish children have been badly served in the past by Irish Governments. Irish children who were abused in institutions had no power to stop the abuse. Irish children have been abused in their own homes. They too had no voice or power. In the words of a glib and dangerous aphorism: Children were supposed to be seen and not heard. Children were battered in State schools by day and night and had no redress. The culture of adults decided and children had no remedy.

Children should be allowed to vote as son as they come to the use of reason.

The sooner the better. There may be difficulties in putting this into practice but no-one better than children themselves to overcome these difficulties.

At the very least the voting age for the next elections, whatever they are, should be reduced to 14. Then to 11. Then to a lower age.

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