Ógra Fianna Fáil has today, Saturday May 7th, called for a Yes vote in the forthcoming referendum on the age of presidential candidates. Speaking in Waterford, Ógra President Eoin Neylon said, “Ógra are hugely disappointed at the ridiculous decision to run this referendum at this juncture. The country faces much more pressing issues than this and it is only lip service to the political reform ticket that the Government were elected on. It is also insulting to young people that the Government are using this as a fob off to the youth agenda. At a time that youth unemployment is running at 22% in Ireland, the furthest thing from these people’s minds is the age of the President.

On the matter of the referendum itself however, Neylon continued, “The fact remains that, although very much not an important question is Irish society, we are still being asked to make a decision. As citizens of a Republic it is therefore our duty to seriously consider the proposal rather than dismiss it off hand. The crux of this referendum is a question of choice. Do we want more choice in future in electing our Head of State? From our perspective, choice is a wonderful thing.

Noting the historical implications of the current constitutional position, Neylon added, “As things stand, many of the political leaders that went out and fought in 1916 would have then been disbarred from being President of Ireland. The very state, who’s constitution we are being asked to change, was founded, along with its institutions, by people who would not qualify for the highest office in the land. Eamon de Valera, who himself drafted Bunreacht na hÉireann, express on the Dáil record in 1937 that he had reservations about the Presidential age limit being too high.

Neylon concluded, “We may not want a 21 year old President but that’s not what we are being asked in this referendum. We are being asked if we want more choice to choose our Head of State. We may one day wish to elect a 34 year old that is the best candidate for the job. We in Ógra believe that the Irish people should be trusted to make the right choice in future elections with an expanded range to choose from. The Irish people should back themselves to make that right choice in future and Vote Yes on May 22nd. The wonderful women and men they have chosen in previous presidential elections is a testament to that.