Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has accused Fine Gael and Fianna Fail of conspiring to deny the youth of Ireland a voice.
The Ireland South MEP made the claim after Fianna Fail voted with the Government in the Seanad to delay a Sinn Féin Bill on extending the voting age to 16 for local and European elections.
“Democracy delayed is democracy denied. Fianna Fail and the Government have essentially conspired to disenfranchise 126,000 people. They know right well that delaying this Bill for another nine months will make it difficult to get legislation passed in time for the local and European elections in 2019 and they quite rightly fear the judgement the youth of Ireland will pass on them.
“Fianna Fail’s decision in particular to back the Government on this, after making reducing the voting age to 16 a pre-election pledge, will cement their reputation as ‘The U Turn Party’. Not only has our own Constitutional Convention recommended lowering the voting age but the European Parliament has officially endorsed the move as well.
“In both the Scottish Independence and Marriage Equality referendums young people showed us how willing they are to engage with the political system when an issue affects them.
“We have often heard Fianna Fail and Fine Gael shed crocodile tears about the lack of engagement with politics from young people and yet when given the opportunity to bring them into the political arena they balked. That is what this cowardly delay is about; denying people the vote without admitting that’s what they’re doing. Such moves have been the hallmark of this de facto Fianna Fail/Fine Gael coalition since it began.
“I would urge young people not to be disheartened by this set back, to keep up the campaign and to write to your local Fine Gael and Fianna Fail representatives letting them know what you think of their most recent political fudge,” she said.