Monday, 29 March 2021
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
Something significant happened on the Order of Business on Friday last. Fianna Fáil introduced a Bill that seeks to lower the voting age to 16 years in local and European elections, and the Leader of the House, a proud member of Fine Gael, indicated she would support it. As a result, two Bills on the Order Paper seek to lower the voting age in local and European elections.Let me remind those who have joined us what happened in the Seanad in the previous term. In 2017, Sinn Féin and the Civil Engagement Group, through myself and Senator Ruane, brought forward a Bill on Second Stage, which was delayed for 12 months by a Fine Gael amendment. We brought it back on Committee Stage 12 months later in March 2018 and Fianna Fáil proposed an amendment that would form a select committee. We ran out of time on that Committee Stage so we have resubmitted the Bill, which currently sits at Committee Stage.
Those two debates in the Seanad ensured that we did not lower the voting age to 16 for local and European elections in time for 2019. Now, because we have the time, we can work together to lower the voting age in time for the 2024 local and European elections. I hope that by Fianna Fáil submitting its Bill, we can work together and it will signal an end to the messing that went on in the two debates we had previously. Senator Craughwell will recall that we had good debates and the time was put in. We should, therefore, pick that up and legislate in time for 2024 to lower the voting age in local and European elections.