Keep up with Armagh i

Collective council call for voting age to be lowered to 16 rejected by UK Government

A notice of motion iniatiated by Newry Council had won the support of ABC Borough and Mid-Ulster District Councils

Polling station local elections

A collective Northern Ireland council demand to lower the voting age to 16 has been rejected by the UK Government.

A motion by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council to lobby Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris had been given support by other councils in Northern Ireland including Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon (ABC) as well as Mid Ulster.

NI Office minister, Steve Baker MP who is responsible for elections, has rejected the amendment request in a letter to be shown to NMDDC chamber next week.

It read: “The Government recognises and hugely values the contribution young people make to society, however the Government has no plans to lower the voting age, having been elected on a manifesto commitment to maintain the current franchise at 18.

“The age of 18 is recognised in the vast majority of democratic countries as the age at which an individual becomes an adult.

“Accordingly, the vast majority of liberal democracies worldwide consider 18 the right age to enfranchise young people.

“This includes the United States, Australia, New Zealand and almost all European Union countries.

“I hope this explains the position of the Government.”

However, Rowallane SDLP rep, Terry Andrews who generated the original motion seeking all 11 Northern Ireland councils support, has reacted by saying he will continue to seek electoral reform for youths.

He said: “I am disappointed to hear from the minister that there is no plan to lower the age of voting to 16 as there were many young people I spoke to on the lead up to the local elections who expressed a wish to vote.

“The position of the Westminster Government is at odds to that of Wales and Scotland, where the voting age is 16 for devolved and local elections.

“I do believe that 16 year olds should have the vote and I would like to thank those other councils who have supported my motion to write to the Secretary of State.

“The way people come into contact with politics in their formative years is crucially important for the future of our democracy.

“I will continue to lobby on behalf of my young constituents to advocate for their right to vote in future elections from the age of 16. ”


Sign Up To Our Newsletter

Most read today

More in Newry