Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty has, today (Monday) commended the young electorate on their turnout for last week’s Marriage Referendum.
Deputy Doherty stated “The turnout for this referendum was special in many ways; a turnout of more than 60 per cent is absolutely superb given that in the Seanad referendum our constituency turned out approximately 30 per cent.
“Albeit low considering the average turnout at a general election, one can only feel optimistic given the high numbers of young people voting, and many for the very first time.”
Doherty continued “almost 66,000 people registered to vote for the first time for this referendum, which is absolutely fantastic. While I see the increase in figures in our electoral register encouraging, we must ask ourselves, with the exception to those just turned 18, why these young people were not already registered to vote? The answer to this question I believe is manifold.
“Perhaps our young electorate feel somewhat isolated from our political system and therefore do not engage. In recent years the young electorate, and by young I mean 18-30 year olds, are apathetic towards our political system, but what this referendum tells us, a lethargic and uninterested young electorate could not be further from the truth.”
Doherty stated “One of the reasons which I believe the turnout and the result of this referendum ought to be accredited to is that people were asked to come out and vote on civil rights rather than political choice. And in this respect, the Yes campaign, its supporters, canvassers and public figures made an emotional and personal plea to the people of Ireland to vote in a certain way. Likewise, when I was out on the campaign trail, I was speaking to the electorate as a mother of four, not just as a TD who happened to support this campaign.
“We must not be complacent and take it as a given that these young people will turnout to vote in the next General Election which is due to take place within the next year.”
The Meath East TD continued by saying that “it is now essential that the Irish electorate, particularly the young cohort of this electorate, remain engaged and interested in the political sphere and continue with this new found level of engagement and participation in our democratic process.
“Young Irish people travelled from far and near to exercise their vote in this referendum, be it from Australia to Dublin, from Cork to Sneem, 5 thousand miles or 5 miles, I am truly hopeful that our young electorate see the impact which their vote can have on our democratic system.”
To conclude, Doherty said that “it is my responsibility, and the responsibility of all public representatives, to ensure that our young electorate remain engaged in our democratic system. This referendum has been a massive eye opener and learning experience for me both personally and as a TD. I certainly will do everything in my power to ensure that the lessons learned will not be forgotten in the next big social issue headline. As with our recently amended constitution, we must adapt the way in which we do business and communicate with all members of the public, in a way which is reflective and representative of those who we are communicating with.”