Meath Senator Thomas Byrne has said that he is reserving judgment on the Constitutional Convention which held its first meeting this past weekend.  Senator Byrne is representing his party at the Convention.  The Convention opposed the Government’s proposals by voting in favour of lowering the voting age (to 16 and not 17 as suggested by the Government) but against reducing the length of the presidential term. 

Byrne stated “I pay tribute to everyone who took part at the weekend particularly those citizens selected at random who are not politicians.  I understand that two of them are from Meath. 

“Since the Clár for the Convention was first announced, I have been clear in my disappointment that the Government did not take this chance to engage in the issue of real political reform in a more meaningful way.    In my view, when citizens talk about the need to change the way we practice politics in this country, they are not talking about presidential terms of office or the voting age.  

“However, the Convention has now started and it is important that all those in political life respect the contribution of the citizen members and seek to make the most of what has been created.  The ball is now in the Government’s court on the voting age.  They now have to decide whether the Convention has real meaning or is just another talking shop.”  

Senator Byrne also demanded more use of the Irish language at the Convention – the first official language of the Constitution.  “I am glad that the Convention agreed to my request to have our Convention ballot papers in Irish and I was delighted to be able to make my contribution to the debate through Irish,” concluded Senator Byrne.