Presidential poll was about having candidates in their thirties - Kenny
THE PRESIDENTIAL age referendum was designed to allow people in their early 30s to contest for the "highest office in the land", Taoiseach Enda Kenny has insisted.
Mr Kenny said the referendum, which was comfortably defeated on Saturday, was not necessarily designed to produce a 21-year-old President.
But he said voters were turned off by the idea of a Presidential election campaign which was contested by people as young as 21 years of age and this was a factor in their decision to vote 'No'.
The Government has been criticised over its decision to stage the referendum in the first place, with many Fine Gael politicians openly opposed to the proposal to reduce the age from 35 to 21.
But the Taoiseach suggested that people became too caught-up on the idea of a 21-year-old President and that instead the referendum was about allowing people in their thirties to run for Aras An Uachtarain.
He said this was one of the main factors behind the defeat, as well as a much stronger level of engagement in the Marriage Equality referendum.
"People focussed on the age of 21 as if it was going to be a contest to elect people at 21 years of age, when in fact, the argument was could you elect somebody who was 34, or 33 or 30. So the question was about removing the age bar from 35 and bringing it down to 21, so that the people above that age could contest for the highest office in the land," Mr Kenny said.
"But I think the issue became side-lined because of the much greater topical issues that centred around marriage equality."
Tanaiste Joan Burton admitted that the Labour Party focussed much more heavily on the Marriage Equality referendum.
"I would say in the whole campaign … I was asked 20 times about the age of contesting the presidency."