Alliance Council team secures debate on Votes at 16

The Ards and North Down Council Alliance team have added their voices to the Votes at 16 campaign, after securing an important local debate on the issue tonight.

Alderman Deborah Girvan and Councillor Karen Douglas said it was an “important move” for the Council, giving greater recognition to young people who are the future of the borough.

“At 16-years-old, you can get a job and pay tax, join the armed forces, have sex legally or get married. Yet you still aren’t allowed to vote and have a say in those life-changing decisions,” said Alderman Girvan.

“Today’s 16 and 17-year-olds are perhaps much better informed, more mature and more worldly-wise than ever before. More and more countries are bringing legislation to permit 16 and 17-year-olds to vote, with Scotland having done so and Wales planning to. Northern Ireland needs to stop treating these young people like children and do the same, and Ards and North Down can help lead the way by backing this motion.”

“By supporting Alliance’s motion, other parties can join with us in recognising young people have agency, they have views and they have voices,” added Councillor Douglas.

“Alliance recently wrote to the Secretary of State to seek the devolution of the power to set the voting age. If that is successful, there is a likelihood it will pass due to the numbers of MLAs supporting it.

“As a Council, let us engage the 16 and 17-year-olds across the borough. That should start at tonight’s Council meeting and I would encourage as many as possible to attend to see first-hand Alliance advocating for their democratic right to influence decisions which have an impact on their lives and shape the future of a society which also belongs to them.”

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