Emmett Corcoran, Independent Candidate in the Roscommon-South Leitrim By-Election is calling on the government to do more to engage young people in the political system. Mr. Corcoran said that he has met many young people who are completely disillusioned with politics and do not see politicians either understanding or representing their concerns. He believes that many young people see little point in voting.
Mr. Corcoran said that the government should start by changing the voting age from 18 to 16 years of age. Corcoran notes how engaged the young people in Scotland were with their referendum for independence. For the first time sixteen and seventeen year olds in Scotland were allowed to vote on an issue of national importance. These young people participated in live TV debates and the issues were discussed in the classrooms all over the country.
Mr. Corcoran said that at sixteen and seventeen years of age young people were forming their values that many of them will hold for life. “This is the time to engage young people in political debate so that they can get a sense of the relevance of politics. If we get people to vote at a younger age, by sheer weight of numbers politicians will have to listen to them”.
Mr. Corcoran added, “Having canvassed hundreds of people, both young and old, over the last number of weeks I am hearing a common story. ‘Politicians don't listen’. ‘If it doesn't affect me what’s the point in taking part?’ ‘Nothing will change’. People have almost given up hoping that things will ever truly improve in rural Ireland”.
“Lowering the voting age, to the reasonable limit of 16, will allow young people to become politically engaged. If we follow Scotland’s example we would transform politics, and I believe it will be surprising what the silent among us could do if we truly felt engaged”, concluded Corcoran.
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