Girvan disappointed after Votes at 16 motion defeated

Alliance Councillor Deborah Girvan has said she is disappointed after a motion calling for Council backing for Votes at 16 to be extended to Northern Ireland fell due to unionist opposition.

The debate at Ards and North Down Borough Council, which had been secured by Alliance, ended in defeat last night after seven DUP and one UUP members voted against it. Alderman Girvan said the move had sent out a disheartening message to young people.

“Opposition to this motion does nothing but send out the message young people are not a valued part of society. They are old enough to work, pay taxes and join the armed forces, so it follows they should have a say in who makes key decisions and how taxes are spent.

“Arguments were made about young people being too immature or not interested in politics but that disregards the many engaged, passionate and politically astute of younger age in our society, not to mention having the ability to vote will increase that engagement.

“There is a clear need for a fundamental renewal of politics in Northern Ireland. Giving a new generation of young people the opportunity to have their say will help inspire that. Alliance will not be deterred from continuing to pursue the right of 16 and 17-year-olds to be able to take part in the democratic process.”

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