New Electoral Commission to look at reducing voting age

New Electoral Commission to look at reducing voting age

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien has got Government agreement on the terms and conditions of the chairperson of the Electoral Commission. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The expansion of postal voting and the reduction of the voting age will be among the key priorities of the new Electoral Commission.

The Chief Justice is expected to nominate either a serving or a retired senior judge to lead up the commission which will also be asked to review the law to ensure that donations from non-citizens outside of the State are not used to influence our elections and political process.

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien on Tuesday got the Government to agree on the terms and conditions of the chairperson of the Electoral Commission.

The commission will be independent and the chairperson will be responsible for leading the commission at board level.

The chairperson will also play a central role in the interpretation and explanation of the subject matter of referendums, and also play a prominent role in engagement with the media.

However, one of the first pieces of work will be to examine and draw conclusions from the Scottish experience of reducing the voting age.

Report on Camhs

Meanwhile, minister of state Mary Butler briefed the Cabinet on the situation with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (Camhs) following the publication of a damning report.

An interim report from the Mental Health Commission published this week exposed many problems with services for children and young people,

However, Ms Butler told the Cabinet that the HSE is already responding to the concerns raised. She said that of 168 cases highlighted in the report, 140 are being responded to and 28 are being reviewed.

The HSE has also announced a review of all open child and adolescent cases which have not been monitored for six months or more.

Since Covid began, Camhs has seen 21% more new patients, and a 33% increase in referrals.

Separately, Justice Minister Simon Harris asked the Government to propose a timed amendment to a bill aimed at tackling targeted protests.

The purpose of the bill, brought forward by senators Malcolm Byrne and Fiona O’Loughlin, is to introduce a specific offence of targeted protest. 

The bill has its origins in Covid-related protests, where protesters congregated outside homes, including those of senior officials.

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