Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (200)

Mick Barry

Question:

200. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage his views on extending voting rights in local and European elections to 16 year olds and 17 year olds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2302/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Programme for Government - Our Shared Future contains a broad range of electoral reforms including a commitment to establish an independent, statutory Electoral Commission by the end of 2021. The Programme also contains a specific commitment to "Examine the Scottish experience of reducing the voting age to 17, in order to draw conclusions" within the lifetime of the current Dáil.

The Government has approved the drafting of an Electoral Reform Bill and the circulation of the Bill's general scheme to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage for pre-legislative consideration. The general scheme addresses a number of Government commitments including in relation to the establishment of the Electoral Commission.

The general scheme has been circulated to the Joint Oireachtas Committee and has been published on my Department's website at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/34cf6-general-scheme-of-the-electoral-reform-bill-2020/.

It is proposed that one of the Electoral Commission's initial functions will be to conduct research on electoral policies and procedures with a view to providing advice to the Oireachtas and to the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage as may be required from time to time. Following its establishment, the Electoral Commission will be well placed, if requested, to examine, among other matters, the prospect of reducing the age at which a person would be entitled to vote at elections and referendums held in the State having particular regard to the experience in Scotland as well as in other countries where a reduction in the voting age has taken place.