The Votes at 16 Coalition has welcomed the news that the Assembly is to debate reducing the voting age in Northern Ireland. Phil Flanagan MLA, Sinn Féin MLA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, has proposed a motion reducing the age of voting in elections and referenda to 16 years of age, and Sinn Féin plan to create a debate on the issue at the Assembly in the Autumn.
The news came in as the Votes at 16 Coalition were running workshops for young people on campaigning to lower the voting age at the British Youth Council convention in Belfast, held in partnership with the Northern Ireland Youth Forum.
WIMPS (Where is My Public Servant), a member of the Votes at 16 Coalition and youth-led organisation working to create a better society in Northern Ireland, have welcomed the chance for cross party debate.
Laura, 17, a member of WIMPS from Belfast, said: “This is a big step in getting widespread political interest in the issue of votes at 16. We at WIMPS will be encouraging young people all over Northern Ireland to talk to their local representatives about this issue.”
Young people from WIMPS recently interviewed Jeffrey Donaldson MP, Democratic Unionist Party MP for the Lagan Valley, on votes at 16 who agreed the votes at 16 could help engage young people in politics:
The Votes at 16 Coalition will be working with our members in Northern Ireland to develop resources to help you lobby your MLA on votes at 16 and ask them to attend the debate. Watch this space! In the mean time make sure you show the support in Northern Ireland for votes at 16 by signing up to our supporters’ map here.
You can see which politicians in Northern Ireland already support votes at 16 here.