It was announced today that the Northern Ireland Assembly has passed a motion in support of lowering the voting age to 16.
51 MLAs backed a notion proposed by Megan Fearon of Sinn Fein – Stormont’s youngest member – and the Green Party’s Stephen Agnew, with both nationalist parties, the Ulster Unionists and the Alliance, amongst those in favour.
Megan Fearon noted that she had only been entitled to a vote three years ago, despite being “very politically aware” since her early teens. She went on to note that “much more must be done to engage with this younger sector”.
Votes at 16 campaigner and British Youth Council Trustee Marc Kidson said:
“This is fantastic news, and another big win for the Votes at 16 coalition! We’re delighted that the Northern Ireland Assembly have joined The Scottish Government and Welsh Assembly in recognising that 16 and 17 year olds have the right to a say in the decisions that will define their future.
“But a change to the voting age can only be made by Westminster. So surely now the UK Parliament must stand up and take notice, and allow 16 and 17 year olds to take part in all public elections across the UK. And if they don’t, what message does that send to young people – does the UK Parliament have less faith in young people’s abilities to engage in the political system than the Northern Ireland and Welsh Assemblies and The Scottish Government?
“At the age of 16, young people are legally allowed to leave school and enter work or training, consent to sexual relationships, get married or enter a civil partnership and join the armed forces. Surely this gives them the right to a right to a say in the decisions that affect their lives? The Votes at 16 Coalition will continue to campaign until all 16 and 17 year olds have the right to vote in all public elections across the UK.”