Student leader says Votes at 16 essential ahead of action day tomorrow

Ahead of tomorrow’s student day of action on votes at 16, NUS-USI President Olivia Potter-Hughes called for politicians in Northern Ireland to apply pressure on the Westminster government to deliver votes for people who are 16 and over in Northern Ireland as a matter of urgency.

NUS-USI President Olivia Potter-Hughes said: “People aged 16 pay taxes, and their taxes are spent by government, so people aged 16 and above must not be denied the right to vote. If society wants young people to become more civically involved, then government must act to give people aged 16 and above democratic rights.

“The student movement across the UK is holding a day of action on Friday 27 April to apply pressure on decision-makers at Westminster to deliver legislation to provide votes at 16.

“The issues of voting age is not a devolved power so it is incumbent upon MPs to address this issue and work to deliver the new legislation needed to right this wrong. I am calling on Northern Ireland MPs to apply pressure upon the government to try and ensure that votes at 16 legislation is created for Northern Ireland as swiftly as possible.

“It is important that government gives young people here a stake in the future, so that they can have hope and a sense of ownership, and delivering votes at 16 is the best way to do this.”

NUS-USI Campaigns & Citizenship Officer Colette McAllister said: “NUS-USI believes that as sixteen and seventeen-year olds have responsibilities such as being able to leave school, work full time, get married, be parents or carers and even be members of political parties from sixteen, this should be balanced with their right to vote.

“We do not believe that young people are disengaged, but instead feel that they are disenfranchised. We believe that young people are at the cutting edge of change and must have their views reflected in society. The Votes at 16 Campaign is a youth-led campaign across Ireland, and the UK, encouraged by schools, Unions, youth forums and parliaments.”

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