‘Trinity Access 21’ students aim to reduce voting age
Posted on: 03 October 2016
Senators Lynn Ruane and Fintan Warfield recently hosted 20 Trinity Access 21 (TA21) students in Leinster House to discuss their upcoming bill to reduce the voting age to 16 in local and European elections.
The student voice of these discussions was led by Eoghan Gilroy, a transition year pupil on placement with senator Ruane, who is participating in the Trinity Access 21 project in Ardscoil La Salle, Raheny.
Eoghan has developed a research project which invites students to host school discussions on the value of being able to vote at age 16. Participants will return to the Seanad on October 14th to present this information for inclusion in the bill, on behalf of senators Ruane and Warfield.
Senator Lynn Ruane, a graduate of the Trinity Access Programmes, commented: “It’s of the utmost importance that young people engage with politics and their local communities as early as possible and the ability to vote in local elections will be an important first step towards making this a reality. Moreover, at this crucial period for the future of the European Union, we need young people to contribute to the debate over the future of our role in that union and how best we can be represented.”
“I sincerely hope that by the 2019 local and European elections, young people will be able to participate in that democratic exercise as fully enfranchised Irish citizens.”
Katriona O’Sullivan, Trinity Access 21 Coordinator of Research and Impact, commented: “The TA21 initiative has provided students from socio-economically disadvantage communities with real opportunities to feel empowered and to lead change in their communities. Being invited into the Seanad to work alongside senators Ruane and Warfield is a wonderful opportunity for our students to extend these skills and get a real sense of how their voice can impact upon larger societal issues.”
During their visit to Leinster House the 20 students did a full tour of the Seanad and were presented a copy of the Proclamation before going into a lecture hall to debate the value of reducing the age of consent.
Participants in the discussion, commented on how they felt they were not considered enough when it comes to public policy.
The Trinity Access 21 network is a collaboration between the Trinity Access Programmes (TAP), Bridge21 and the School of Computer Science & Statistics and School of Education. It is supported by Google, who have provided €1.5m in funding, and aims to be a catalyst for social transformation, supporting people to reach their full educational potential through innovation, research and advocacy.
TAP celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2013 and has a long track record of developing innovative educational projects, courses and entry routes for students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
Bridge21 has a strong recent presence in this area, challenging conventional models of teaching and seeking to change the second-level classroom so that students are empowered to teach and learn through technology and team work, and the teacher adopts the role of an orchestrator of learning.
TA21 supports the development of college and career aspirations of young people from socio-economically disadvantaged communities by providing students with real opportunities to lead initiatives that impact their communities.
TA21 focuses on four core educational practices – ‘21st Century Learning,’ ‘Leadership through Service,’ ‘Pathways to College,’ and ‘Mentoring’- involving more than 1,200 second level students from 11 Dublin schools. The project recently won the ‘Excellence in Community Volunteering’ award at the Chambers Ireland Corporate Social Responsibility awards.
Main photo: Senator Lynn Ruane in the Seanad with Eoghan Gilroy of Ardscoil La Salle, Raheny