FG plans to lower minimum age for TDs (SBP – 24th September 2006)

An article of mine from today’s Sunday Business Post:

Eighteen-year-olds would be free to run for seats in the Dail should a policy adopted by Fine Gael this week lead to constitutional change.

Article 16.1.1 of the Constitution (pdf file) states that only citizens over the age of 21 are eligible to become TDs. However, Fine Gael’s environment spokesperson Fergus O’Dowd said the party had now included support for an age change in its party policy.

‘‘This is part of our party’s attempt to encourage young people to participate in our democracy,” said O’Dowd. Fine Gael previously announced that it would use the Personal Public Service Number (PPS) system to automatically register people over 18 in an effort to attract more young people into politics. Fine Gael has the country’s youngest TD, 28-year-old Damien English, who has been trying to attract the youth vote in recent months. In July, party leader Enda Kenny launched a poster campaign encouraging young people to register to vote. Posters appeared at the Hi:Fi and Electric Picnic music festivals.

As the minimum age for Dail membership is part of the constitution, a referendum would be required to make an amendment. O’Dowd said the party had not made any decisions in this regard as the policy had only been agreed upon.

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