Saturday, January 26, 2013

Constitutional Convention

This weekend sees the first working meeting of the Constitutional Convention taking place. There will be discussions on possible amendments to the Constitution including the lowering of the voting age, reducing the presidential term of ofice from seven to five years and holding Presidential elections at the same time as Euorpean elections.

Discussions on extending voting rights in Presidential elections to Irish citizens living abroad and citizens of the six counties will take place at a later date.

Irish citizens who would like to make a submission to allow citizens of all 32 counties to vote in Presidential elections or on other issues can do so here.

All these issues will be discussed at the Convention where a vote will be taken on whether or not to recommend these changes to the Oireachtas. If passed, the Oireachtas will debate on the recommendations . The Government is committed to having this debate within four months and setting a date for a referendum if it agrees with the recommendations.

The Convention itself is made up of of 66 citizens, who were selected by a polling company to be representative, as well as 33 politicians, including four from the Northern Ireland Assembly, and independent chairman Tom Arnold.

Listed as members of the Convention on the Constitution include four MLA's, Martin McGuinness (SF), Alban Maginness (SDLP), Steven Agnew (Green Party NI) and Stewart Dickson (Alliance). Sinn Fein also have TD's Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald listed. Not surprisingly Northern Unionists declined their invitation.

Sinn Fein will be represented this weekend by substitutes Senator David Cullinane, Senator Kathryn Reilly and MLA Cathríona Ruane. And with SDLP and numerous Fianna Fail representatives, Nationalism appears to be well represented.

The goal for Nationalists from this Convention is clear. The recommendations which will be put forward for debate to the Oireachtas before being put to the people in a referendum need to include changes that would allow citizens of all 32 counties to vote in Presidential elections. Lets see if they can deliver.

EditBreaking News has reported that "the Constitutional Convention has voted in favour of lowering the voting age, but has rejected reducing the presidential term.

At its meeting in Dublin, 52% of delegates voted in favour of lowering the voting age.
Of these, 48% were in favour of lowering the age to 16 with 39% selecting 17.
A reduction in the Presidential term from seven to five years was opposed by 57%".

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