Young people in Ireland want the voting age lowered to 16 in order to be given a voice in Irish politics, a new youth-led research report has found.
The Children's Rights Alliance published its "Voice, Rights, Action!" report on April 22, highlighting children's awareness of their rights, identifying gaps in their knowledge and skills, and publishing recommendations that will help address gaps in children's rights education policy.
Among the report's recommendations is that the voting age in Ireland be lowered to 16 due to "children’s right to be heard and involved in decisions that impact them."
Tanya Ward, Chief Executive at Children’s Rights Alliance, says in the new report: "Now is the time to give children and young people a true voice in our political system and lower the voting age to 16."
Currently in Ireland, the legal voting age is 18.
Led by Gabriela Martinez Sainz and Jessica Daminelli of the UCD School of Education and their co-researchers Alex (12), Cameron (15), Emma (17), Erin (13), Matthew (16), and Orna (16), the report also identified specific rights that are of particular importance to children, including education, health, and their participation in decision-making.
The report also recommended that schools should provide mandatory education on children's rights, adding that the education should be comprehensive and go beyond the UN Convention on the rights of the child.
The education should also include information about remedies and supports available to children and their families, the report stated.
The report also called for special actions for vulnerable groups of children, including the provision of adequate spaces such as gender-neutral bathrooms and changing rooms in addition to school infrastructure accessible to children with disabilities.
Ward said the new report highlights the "importance of a shared understanding and education on children’s rights".
"It provides a fresh perspective on what we need to do as educators, as advocates, and as policymakers to ensure that children and young people are given opportunities to have their voices heard on what they feel is most important in their lives, and how they can be supported to take action to exercise their rights."
Elsewhere, Ireland's National Youth Council, a part of the Children's Rights Alliance, has been campaigning for the Irish Government to extend the right to vote to 16 and 17-year-olds for local, national, and European elections.