Plans Announced To Boost Youth Involvement In Politics

Fianna Fáil have announced proposals aimed at boosting youth engagement in politics and public affairs.

The proposals include:

• Reducing the voting age from 18 to 16 for the 2019 Local Elections on a trial basis;

• Appointing at least four people under 35, two male and two female, among the Taoiseach's 11 nominees to the Seanad;

• Establishing a working group comprising representatives from the Oireachtas, Comhairle na nÓg and the National Youth Council of Ireland to examine ways to increase youth engagement in national policy making;

• Political education to be a mandatory part of the curriculum at primary level and junior cycle at second level;

• Facilitating extension of postal ballots to students who may be at college or young people who may be aboard at the time of a poll.

The policy paper has been prepared by Wexford General Election candidate, Councillor Malcolm Byrne, who said: "Despite being one of the youngest countries in Europe, with nearly half of our population under 35 years of age, we have a relatively poor rate of youth participation in formal political structures.

"Young people feel disconnected from political life, but as the Marriage Equality referendum showed they feel passionately about issues and want their voices to be heard.

"Today, young people feel that the traditional political institutions of the state do not speak to them, and that their views are not being taken on board. This is a growing problem that needs to be addressed.

"Young people have a right and responsibility to take part in decision making and we must take decisive action to ensure they become engaged in public life from a young age.

"The Government needs to do much more to promote youth engagement in politics and public affairs. People from all backgrounds and ages need to play an active role in the decision making process. This is a fundamental requirement for having a fully representative and properly functioning political system.

"The proposals that I have put forward provide a clear framework for enhancing young people's engagement with politics and public affairs."


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