Dickson calls for votes at 16 to be extended to Northern Ireland

Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson has called for votes at 16 to be extended to Northern Ireland, after new rules allowing it came into force today in Wales.

Sixteen and 17-year-olds in Wales can now vote in Senedd elections, with the next one expected next year. Around 65,000 16 and 17-year-olds are expected to benefit from the move.

“I welcome this move for Wales, which follows the example of Scotland in its independence referendum and local government elections,” said Mr Dickson.

“But young people in Northern Ireland also deserve the right to vote. Those aged 16 and 17 are old enough to work, pay tax and join the armed forces. Therefore it makes sense they should have the right to decide how those taxes are spent and what other key decisions are made to represent them.

“Studies show reducing the voting age to 16 is good for democracy in general, by increasing political engagement across society. The usual excuses to not grant votes to 16-year-olds do not stack up, disregarding the many passionate and astute young people already participating in other aspects of politics.

“Alliance has been campaigning on this issue for a number of years. Giving the younger generation a voice can only be a good thing. Many of the decisions taken by elected representatives today will affect the rest of their lives, so it is only fair they have a say in electing those taking them and are not left behind.”