By David Farrell (June 21, 2010)
The following letter appeared in today’s Irish Times:
Madam, – On behalf of sixth class girls of Scoil Phádraic Cailíní, we would like to put forward some ideas about children having a say in political matters. After a debate in class we began to realise we would have to wait at least six or seven years before we can vote. One proposal we discussed in class to address this problem is having meetings with local TDs who could explain to us about the workings of local politics. We found that the majority of adults, politicians, etc, do not take us seriously simply because of our age; while we believe that we should be judged as individuals regardless of our age.
We also thought of introducing politics as an option in secondary school to develop our ideas and broaden our career options and understanding. This way we would be better qualified to make decisions in the future. …In conclusion, we believe that whatever age you are, your feelings and contributions should be respected. – Yours, etc,
Scoil Phádraic Cailíní
Why do we hold to the position that someone must be 18 before they can vote (which, if you’re unlucky about your birthday timing could mean waiting until your 22nd birthday before you actually get to vote)?
Across the world debates are being held over whether to lower the voting age to 16. A number of countries (among them Austria) have already moved in this direction. Fine Gael have signaled a willingness to consider such a move here, though only vaguely. Given the terrible financial legacy that we’re leaving for our future generations, perhaps we should give them a voice now.
And, while we’re at it, we could introduce politics and democracy into the second level curriculum — something that is long, long overdue.