A growing campaign spurred on by the recent Scottish referendum to reduce the voting age has been endorsed by SDLP MLA, Dominic Bradley.

The MLA said “I’m very proud to once again add my support to the campaign to lower the voting age to 16. The Scottish Independence Referendum saw 16 and 17 year olds given the right to vote for the first time on these islands and firmly put to bed the notion that young people are politically apathetic.

“Over 80% of 16 and 17 year olds voted in the Scottish referendum and the latest polls show that they were divided 50/50 on the decision. Not only does that show a huge political appetite among young people, it proves that there is no one consensus. Like any other voting age group, young people will come to their own balanced, reasonable conclusions. 

“The SDLP has long called for a reduction to the voting age in. Only last year my party colleague Mark Durkan MP tabled an amendment to the Northern Ireland Bill at Westminster calling for the devolution of the power to vary the voting age for Assembly elections. Unfortunately the Conservative Party opposed the proposal.

“We now have the ridiculous proposition by the Conservative Party that 16 and 17 year olds in Scotland are mature enough to vote on how they are governed but not mature enough to vote on who governs them. That hypocrisy must be challenged and the SDLP will raise it at every level of government.

“If we ask 16 year olds to pay taxes, we should be prepared to give them a vote on how those taxes are spent. If they’re mature enough to consent to medical treatment, then they’re mature enough to cast a ballot.

“The Assembly will again debate this issue in the coming weeks and it’s time Westminster respected our vote, even if they refuse to respect others.”

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