Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Age of Eligibility for Election to the Office of President) Bill 2015

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search
Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Age of Eligibility for Election to the Office of President) Bill 2015
Location Republic of Ireland Ireland
Date 22 May 2015 (2015-05-22)
Results
Votes  %
Yes check.svg Yes 520,898 26.94%
X mark.svg No 1,412,602 73.06%
Valid votes 1,933,500 99.18%
Invalid or blank votes 15,938 0.82%
Total votes 1,949,438 100.00%
Registered voters/turnout 3,221,681 60.51%
Source: Referendum Commission[1]

The Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Age of Eligibility for Election to the Office of President) Bill 2015 (bill no.6 of 2015) was a proposed amendment to the constitution of Ireland to reduce from 35 to 21 the minimum age of candidacy for the office of President of Ireland. The bill was introduced to the Oireachtas in January 2015 by the Fine Gael–Labour government, after which both houses of the Oireachtas passed the bill. The bill was rejected by the electorate in a referendum on 22 May 2015 by 73.1% voting against to 26.9% in favour.[1] This was the largest losing margin of any referendum in Ireland.

Background

The office of President was created when the Constitution was enacted in 1937. Douglas Hyde, the first president, took office in 1938. The age limit of 35 was set in the draft constitution introduced by the then Executive Council, in line with that of other countries, including the President of the United States.[2][3] The draft subsection originally read:[4]

Every citizen who has reached his 35th year of age and is not placed under disability or incapacity by law, is eligible for election to the office of President.

When the President of the Executive Council, Éamon de Valera, undertook to delete the words "and is not placed under disability or incapacity by law", he stated, "And if I get any support from the other members of the House, I should be inclined to say that I would wipe out the 35 years of age provision, too."[3] The latter was not pursued.[5]

Until the 1990 election of Mary Robinson, presidents were older men at the end of their career. The 1996 Constitution Review Group was divided on whether to reduce the age limit; the majority favoured "no change, or only a minor reduction", while a minority felt the age should be the same as for election to the Oireachtas (currently 21).[2] In 1997, the Oireachtas joint committee on the Constitution disagreed, recommending a reduction to age 18.[6] Private member's bills to reduce the age limit to 18 were introduced in 1999 by Eamon Gilmore and in 2011 by Catherine Murphy; neither was enacted.[7][8]

After the 2011 general election, Fine Gael and the Labour Party formed a coalition government, the programme of which included the establishment of a Constitutional Convention to examine potential changes on specified issues, including "Reducing the President's term of office from seven to five years, and aligning with the European Parliament elections and local elections".[9] The convention considered the issue at its first working meeting, in January 2013, and voted against either of the specified proposals; however, it voted in favour of two others: reducing the nomination age from 35 to 21, and allowing candidate nomination by electors.[10] The age-reduction proposal was passed by 50 votes to 47, with three "don't know".[10] The choice of relatively minor questions for the convention's first meeting was defended by the Taoiseach, who said, "It is not that there are no exceptionally difficult constitutional issues, but the aim is to see how the constitutional convention will actually operate and whether it can do its work effectively."[11] The convention's report on its first meeting was formally submitted in March 2013, and the government formally responded in July, when Taoiseach Enda Kenny promised a referendum "before the end of 2015" on reducing the age of candidacy; the proposal on popular nomination was referred to an Oireachtas committee.[12] In December 2014, the cabinet agreed to hold the promised referendum in May 2015,[13] and in January 2015, the amendment bill was formally introduced in the Dáil by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Alan Kelly.[14]

The government held simultaneous referendums on 22 May 2015, on the presidential age bill and another constitutional amendment, to allow same-sex marriage.[15][16] A Dáil by-election in Carlow–Kilkenny was held on the same day.[15]

Wording

The bill as passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas proposed to change the wording of Article 12.4.1° from [emphasis added]:[2][17]

Every citizen who has reached his thirty-fifth year of age is eligible for election to the office of President.

to:

Every citizen who has reached the age of twenty-one years is eligible for election to the office of President.

As well as the substantive change from 35 to 21, the new wording has two other points of difference. First, it uses gender-neutral language rather than the male pronoun "his". Second, it avoids an ambiguity as to the year in question: one's "thirty-fifth year" begins immediately after one's thirty-fourth birthday, so a strict reading of the existing English text does not have the intended meaning; however, the equivalent Irish text unambiguously indicates age 35.[18] (The Irish text takes precedence in the event of conflict with the English text; both would be changed in tandem by the amending bill.[18])

Campaign and debate

The presidential age referendum was the subject of far less media coverage or active advocacy than the marriage referendum, and described as "forgotten",[19] "invisible",[20] or "the other referendum".[21] Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, and Sinn Féin were nominally in favour, though some representatives of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil said they would be voting No.[22] The Labour Party took no position on the referendum, having supported the bill in the Oireachtas.[22] The Union of Students in Ireland supported a Yes vote.[23][24]

In The Irish Times in February 2015, academics Theresa Reidy and Colum Kenny took opposite stances on the proposal.[25][26] Reidy argued that it would encourage youth participation in politics and broaden the choice of candidates available to voters, while admitting that the issue was far less important than other amendment proposals not proceeded with.[25] Kenny argued that any young person likely to succeed in being nominated would be "a creature of a political party, chosen and funded as a gimmick", and suggested that a No vote would "send a message to Oireachtas Éireann that politicians ought not to toy with the Constitution or patronise the electorate".[26] Diarmaid Ferriter endorsed an internet comment that "the only under 35-year-olds who would think that they would be suitable for the role would be the sort of self-righteous Yoof upstarts that should be let nowhere near such an important and distinguished position".[27] Fintan O'Toole called it "the single most frivolous proposal ever put to the people".[28] Among Yes-advocates, Michael Noonan named Michael Collins and (jocularly) Jesus as prominent people too young to run;[29] among No-advocates, Niall Horan was similarly instanced.[30][31]

Official results

The national result was as follows:[1]

Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Age of Eligibility for Election to the Office of President) Bill 2015
Choice Votes  %
Referendum failed No 1,412,602 73.06
Yes 520,898 26.94
Valid votes 1,933,500 99.18
Invalid or blank votes 15,938 0.82
Total votes 1,949,438 100.00
Registered voters and turnout 3,221,681 60.51%
Results by constituency[32][33]
Constituency Electorate Turnout Turnout (%) Yes Yes (%) No No (%) Spoilt
Carlow–Kilkenny 104,735 68,538 65.44 17,507 25.65 50,738 74.35 293
Cavan–Monaghan 99,265 56,766 57.19 14,167 25.22 41,997 74.78 602
Clare 81,809 48,615 59.43 11,576 24.01 36,633 75.99 406
Cork East 81,271 49,517 60.93 12,290 25.03 36,808 74.97 419
Cork North-Central 75,263 45,063 59.87 11,980 26.86 32,625 73.14 458
Cork North-West 62,143 39,003 62.76 8,860 22.90 29,822 77.10 321
Cork South-Central 92,422 59,008 63.85 15,789 26.95 42,799 73.05 420
Cork South-West 60,141 37,104 61.70 8,733 23.72 28,091 76.28 280
Donegal North-East 59,721 30,728 51.45 8,678 28.48 21,797 71.52 253
Donegal South-West 62,171 32,051 51.55 8,895 28.01 22,857 71.99 299
Dublin Central 57,193 33,142 57.95 12,012 36.61 20,796 63.39 334
Dublin Mid-West 67,091 42,529 63.39 12,096 28.67 30,089 71.33 344
Dublin North 72,523 47,728 65.81 14,069 29.66 33,358 70.34 301
Dublin North-Central 53,785 37,022 68.83 10,878 29.57 25,915 70.43 229
Dublin North-East 59,549 39,523 66.37 11,583 29.51 27,664 70.49 276
Dublin North-West 51,207 30,523 59.61 9,363 30.98 20,857 69.02 303
Dublin South 103,969 70,523 67.83 22,788 32.49 47,349 67.51 386
Dublin South-Central 80,406 48,692 60.56 16,560 34.28 31,753 65.72 379
Dublin South-East 59,376 34,427 57.98 12,848 37.62 21,307 62.38 272
Dublin South-West 71,232 45,168 63.41 13,437 29.98 31,387 70.02 344
Dublin West 65,643 42,255 64.37 12,279 29.22 29,742 70.78 234
Dún Laoghaire 80,176 53,742 67.03 16,690 31.30 36,633 68.70 419
Galway East 85,900 48,102 56.00 10,673 22.43 36,901 77.57 528
Galway West 95,180 52,502 55.16 13,948 26.81 38,080 73.19 474
Kerry North–West Limerick 62,523 35,762 57.20 8,244 23.27 27,178 76.73 340
Kerry South 57,524 33,463 58.17 7,280 21.97 25,863 78.03 320
Kildare North 79,014 49,032 62.05 13,259 27.22 35,459 72.78 314
Kildare South 60,384 35,266 58.40 9,151 26.12 25,880 73.88 235
Laois–Offaly 108,436 63,290 58.37 14,951 23.83 47,793 76.17 546
Limerick 64,100 37,498 58.50 8,495 22.89 28,621 77.11 382
Limerick City 61,421 38,877 63.30 10,719 27.78 27,865 72.22 293
Longford–Westmeath 87,425 47,863 54.75 11,508 24.28 35,898 75.72 457
Louth 102,561 61,441 59.91 16,219 26.60 44,754 73.40 468
Mayo 97,296 55,932 57.49 13,167 23.77 42,231 76.23 534
Meath East 64,956 38,768 59.68 9,790 25.40 28,756 74.60 222
Meath West 63,649 35,814 56.27 8,794 24.77 26,706 75.23 314
Roscommon–South Leitrim 59,392 36,518 61.49 8,143 22.50 28,055 77.50 320
Sligo–North Leitrim 62,031 35,844 57.78 8,859 24.96 26,633 75.04 352
Tipperary North 65,118 40,720 62.53 9,306 23.07 31,040 76.93 374
Tipperary South 58,262 34,532 59.27 7,815 22.85 26,379 77.15 338
Waterford 79,669 47,284 59.35 12,251 26.19 34,534 73.81 499
Wexford 111,474 64,435 57.80 16,430 25.73 47,424 74.27 581
Wicklow 94,275 64,828 68.76 18,818 29.24 45,535 70.76 475
Total 3,221,681 1,949,438 60.51 520,898 26.94 1,412,602 73.06 15,938

Reaction

The National Youth Council of Ireland regretted the defeat, which it said "was due, in part, to a failure on the Government’s side to explain or promote the issue".[34]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Results received at the Central Count Centre for the referendum on the Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Age of Eligibility for Election to the Office of President) Bill 2015". Referendum Commission. May 2015. Retrieved 29 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Constitution Review Group (1996). "The President". Report (PDF). Dublin: Stationery Office. Issues, no.5: the minimum age of eligibility for election to the office of President. Retrieved 26 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Bunreacht na hEireann (Dréacht)—Coiste (d'ath-thógaint)". Dáil Éireann debates. Oireachtas. 26 May 1937. Vol.67 No.9 c.1103–04. Retrieved 26 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Bunreacht na hEireann (Dréacht)—Coiste (ath-thogaint)". Dáil Éireann debates. Oireachtas. 25 May 1937. Vol.67 No.8 c.1004. Retrieved 26 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Committee on Finance — Recommittal". Dáil Éireann debates. Oireachtas. 9 June 1937. Vol.68 No.2 c.128. Retrieved 26 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution (1997). Third Progress Report: The President (PDF). Official publications. Pn 6250. Dublin: Stationery Office. p. 13. ISBN 0707661617. Retrieved 26 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Twentieth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1999 [PMB] (No. 11 of 1999)". Bills 1997-2015. Oireachtas. Retrieved 26 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Thirty-First Amendment of the Constitution (The President) Bill 2011 (Number 71 of 2011)". Bills 1997-2015. Oireachtas. Retrieved 26 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Constitutional Convention: Motion". Dáil Éireann debates. Oireachtas. 10 July 2012. pp. Vol.772 No.1 p.25. Retrieved 16 November 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 10.0 10.1 Convention on the Constitution (March 2013). "First Report" (PDF). Retrieved 26 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Constitutional Convention (Continued)". Dáil Éireann debates. Oireachtas. 9 October 2012. Vol.777 No.4. Retrieved 27 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Report of the Convention on the Constitution: Statements". Dáil Éireann debates. Oireachtas. 18 July 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. McConnell, Daniel (16 December 2014). "Government clears way for referendum to reduce presidential candidate age to 21". Irish Independent. Retrieved 26 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Age of Eligibility for Election to the Office of President) Bill 2015 (Number 6 of 2015)". Bills 1997-2015. Oireachtas. Retrieved 26 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Wording of same-sex marriage referendum published". RTÉ.ie. 21 January 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Marriage Referendum and Age of Presidential Candidates Referendum 22 May 2015". Referendum Commission. Retrieved 23 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Bill as passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas" (PDF). Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Age of Eligibility for Election to the Office of President) Bill 2015. Oireachtas. 1 April 2015. Retrieved 29 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. 18.0 18.1 "Explanatory Memorandum" (PDF). Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Age of Eligibility for Election to the Office of President) Bill 2015. Oireachtas. January 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Minihan, Mary (23 May 2015). "Presidential age vote destined to be forgotten referendum". The Irish Times. Retrieved 29 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Courtney, Lorraine (15 May 2015). "Ignoring the needs of our youth in an invisible referendum". Irish Independent. Retrieved 29 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Moran, Oliver (18 May 2015). "We're being short-changed by the 'other referendum'". TheJournal.ie. Retrieved 29 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. 22.0 22.1 Moran, Oliver (17 May 2015). "Lots of TDs and Senators are voting No in that 'other' referendum next week". TheJournal.ie. Retrieved 29 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Fitzpatrick, Glenn (28 April 2015). "Why shouldn't a young person be able to run for president?". TheJournal.ie. Retrieved 29 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "Debate: Age Of Eligibility For Election To The Office Of President". Marian Finucane show. RTÉ Radio One. April 2015. Retrieved 29 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. 25.0 25.1 Reidy, Theresa (5 February 2015). "Yes: Why we should vote in favour of lowering the age of candidates eligible to become President". The Irish Times. Retrieved 6 February 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. 26.0 26.1 Kenny, Colum (5 February 2015). "No: Why we should vote against lowering the age of candidates eligible to become President". The Irish Times. Retrieved 6 February 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Ferriter, Diarmaid (1 February 2015). "Do under-35s have what it takes to be president of Ireland?". The Irish Times. Retrieved 10 February 2015. One acerbic contributor to a popular politics website made the colourful, and I suspect accurate [emphasis added], observation that “the only under 35-year-olds who would think that they would be suitable for the role would be the sort of self-righteous Yoof upstarts that should be let nowhere near such an important and distinguished position”.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. O'Toole, Fintan (3 March 2015). ": How hopes raised by the Constitutional Convention were dashed". The Irish Times. Retrieved 20 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. "'Even Jesus could not be President' jokes Minister Noonan". Irish Examiner. 5 May 2015. Retrieved 29 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. McNamee, Michael Sheils (1 April 2015). "It turns out Ireland really doesn't want Niall Horan to be President". TheJournal.ie. Retrieved 29 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. Lynch, Andrew (7 May 2015). "'Niall Horan referendum' seems to be headed in just one direction - down". The Herald. Retrieved 29 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. Ní Fhlanghaile, Ríona (26 May 2015). "Referendum Act 1994: Constitutional Referendum" (PDF). Iris Oifigiúil (in Irish and English). Dublin: Stationery Office (42): 1070–72. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. "Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Age of Eligibility for Election to the Office of President) Bill 2015". Referendum Commission. May 2015. Retrieved 29 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  34. "Press Releases". National Youth Council of Ireland. May 2015. Retrieved 29 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links