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Convention to discuss lowering vote age and Presidential term

The 100-member Constitutional Convention holds its first full weekend of deliberations in Malahide this weekend.

Fianna Fáil's Micheál Martin and Averil Power, and Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams, at the Constitutional Convention's first meeting in Dublin Castle last month.
Fianna Fáil's Micheál Martin and Averil Power, and Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams, at the Constitutional Convention's first meeting in Dublin Castle last month.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THE Constitutional Convention holds its first full meeting this weekend, following a ceremonial opening session in Dublin Castle last month.

The 100-member convention will gather at the Grand Hotel in Malahide to discuss whether to lower the voting age to 17, and also whether to shorten the Presidential term of office to five years.

The convention, which contains 66 members of the ordinary public as well as 33 nominees of political parties from both sides of the border, will hear presentations from the National Youth Council of Ireland and the Irish Association of Social Care Workers on lowering the voting age.

DCU professor Robert Elgie will later address the group, and take a question and answer session, on the proposition to reduce the Presidential term.

Members will be asked whether they support reducing the term to five years, with elections held at the same time as the local and European elections.

After each round of presentations, members will break into small groups for round-table discussions before reconvening to compare their findings.

Tomorrow, members will meet again to summarise the arguments heard today, with more round-table discussions, followed by a final vote on any matters that remain outstanding.

The recommendations made by the group will then be returned to the Oireachtas, with the government left to make a final decision on whether to hold referendums to give effect to the recommendations.

Members will also elect a steering group which will work alongside chairman Tom Arnold to oversee the formulation of rules and procedures for future meetings, and to outline the convention’s agenda for future weekends.

Other matters to be discussed by the convention in future hearings include reviewing the system to elect TDs, allowing citizens living abroad the right to vote in Presidential elections, and amending the constitution to allow for same-sex marriage.

Hearings will also discuss removing the reference to the role of women in the home, and other ways to increase the participation of women in politics, and removing the offence of blasphemy from the Constitution.

The Convention will also be entitled to make any other recommendations as it sees appropriate, as long as it deals with the other matters before the first week in December, its deadline to make its final recommendations.

The convention’s activities can be watched online from 10am at its website.

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Gavan Reilly

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