In a democracy, people are expected to participate in the decision-making process by voting.

When we vote in an election, we elect people to make decisions. These decisions affect our lives.  They affect how we are educated, how our healthcare is provided and how our rights are protected.

Sadly people aged 16 and 17 are not allowed the right to vote. We believe that this is impossible to justify when, at 16 or 17, the law allows a person to:

  • leave school and enter work or training
  • pay income tax and National Insurance
  • obtain tax credits and welfare benefits in their own right
  • consent to sexual relationships (at 17)
  • get married or enter a civil partnership (at 17)

Blocking the right to vote for 16 and 17 year olds is patronising and is based on an old fashioned view about young people’s capabilities.

The Right to Vote is a fundamental human right protected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Excluding 16 and 17 years olds from the decision-making process means that the issues of young people are often ignored by politicians who cannot benefit from or be threatened by their vote.

At a time of massive youth unemployment, we in Labour Youth believe the time has come to empower more young people to get involved in the democratic process.

Making young people wait is leaving it to chance whether TDs take into account the perspectives of their younger constituencies, and this is an affront to democracy.

In Austria, Norway, Slovakia and Brazil, people can vote from 16 – why not let Irish citizens do the same?

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