9 May 2002 Edition

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O'Dea challenged on youth vote adverts

Sinn Féin has described newspaper advertisements carrying the name of Youth Affairs Minister Willie O'Dea urging young people to use their vote as "a transparent election gimmick by Willie O'Dea to promote himself and Fianna Fáil with taxpayers' money".

Sinn Féin's Dublin South-West candidate, Councillor Seán Crowe, said that Minister O'Dea's defence that it is his job to encourage young people to get involved in the political process does not match his government's record.

Cllr Crowe asked: "Is this all Minister O'Dea can come up with? If this isn't just a cheap election gimmick for Wille O'Dea and a costly one for the taxpayer, then his office would have implemented several key recommendations made in the National Youth Council of Ireland's report, Voting at the Crossroads, which was published three years ago."

The National Youth Council proposals included:

All young people who reach 18 years of age automatically added to the register.
Every registered voter automatically receives a polling card.
A standard day for elections agreed (preferably Saturday/Sunday) with standard poll opening and closing times.
The right to vote by post extended to all citizens who want it.
A national ongoing voter information initiative organised through youth organisations.
Crowe added: "Perhaps Minister O'Dea could enlighten us as to what the government has actually done prior to the election being called?"

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