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Dublin: 16 °C Wednesday 21 August, 2019
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Teenage president? TDs to debate changes to Áras rules

Proposed changes would reduce the minimum age to 18, and allow candidates to secure nomination with 10,000 signatures.

Image: jaqian via Flickr

TDs WILL MEET in the Dáil today to discuss changes to the rules of the presidency which would lower the minimum age from 35 to 18.

The constitutional amendment would also make a number of other changes to the position of head of State. The term of office would be reduced from seven years to five, and the president would be allowed to omit religious references from the oath of office.

The bill, which would be dependent on a nationwide referendum, is being sponsored by independent TD Catherine Murphy. She said it would “make the office far more accessible and relevant to citizens.”

It would also remove some barriers to the nomination process. The number of Oireachtas members’ signatures required to enter the running would be reduced from 20 to 10, while a new process would be introduced whereby candidates could win nomination with the signatures of 10,000 voters.

The move follows controversy over the nomination process earlier this year, when would-be independent candidates including Senator David Norris struggled to get their names on the ballot paper despite having widespread popular support.

Murphy said the current constitutional wording regulating access to the presidency is “restrictive and out of date”. She said:

“This bill makes long-overdue proposals to widen the definition of who can run for the office, reforms how nominations may be received, shortens the lengthy term, and makes provision for those who wish to take the oath of office without being required to make a declaration of religious belief.”

She added: “These are sensible proposals which will enhance the office of the Presidency.”

The Dáil debate is due to begin at 10.30am.

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Michael Freeman

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