Trinity College Dublin Students' Union (TCDSU) Vice President, Molly Kenny, appeared on RTÉ's Six One News programme to debate the Presidential Age Referendum earlier this week.
Ms Kenny was speaking in favour of the Yes side, with her opposite number being Fianna Fáil councilor Jim O'Callaghan with Six One anchorman Bryan Dobson chairing it. 
 
The referendum will be asking voters to decide whether to lower the age a person can run for president from 35 to 21.
 
Ms Kenny first touched on the "arbitrary" nature of the cutoff age, saying: "There's many professions and many areas in which you can represent people between the ages of 21 and 35. The issue here isn't whether a line of 21 year olds will instantly sign up, people do understand the position of president, people do understand the importance of it, but people should be based off their own merit and not because they woke up one day at the age of 35."
 
"Consider the 32 year old, consider the 28 year old who has the experience, who has the merits to be president and why those people should be given a chance," she added.
 
She continued her focus on the "merit" of young candidates, while also citing the cutoff age of 18 in France and Slovenia in response to Mr Callaghan using the much older cutoff ages of Germany and Italy to show that there is not a "regressive provision in our constitution". 
 
"Just because you happen to be the age of 35, deoesn't mean you have accumulated the amount of experience needed. Yes you've lived a longer amount of days, but it doesn't mean you've had those chances," she added. 
 
Mr O'Callaghan later warned against a young president as they could be perceived as weak by experienced politicians. 
 
"You want a person of experience who can stand up to the ministers of the day... we've had that with the nine presidents to date, let's not break it and change it because we don't need to," he stated.
 
Ms Kenny responded by saying the desired qualities can be found in young people as well. 
 
"At the age of 35 you don't magically become capable of standing up for what you believe in. Also, you're able to become a judge or a barrister all below the ages of 35. You're able to serve in our military, you're able to serve in the gardaí, you're able to serve as our educators and you're able to serve as our broadcasters." 
 
Mr O'Callaghan, who is a barrister and legal advisor to his party's Front Bench, brought up how certain jobs require a set length of time rather than having an age cutoff, allowing a person to build up life experience for the work. 
 
"There's no age requirement in the constitution for a judge, but there is a law requirement that you have to have 10 to 12 years experience, so the reality is you cannot become a judge until you're about 35 years of age," he said.
 
"Similarly, in respect of the Taoiseach, you could technically become Taoiseach at 21 years of age. The reality is the youngest Taoiseach we've ever has been 45 years of age," he added.
 
Mr O'Callaghan also brought up the lack of campaigning for the referendum by the political parties. 
 
"We have a Government who haven't put out a leaflet, who haven't put out a poster, the parties have no interest in changing the amendment so I don't see why the people should have either." 
 
The debate concluded with Ms Kenny replying to worries over the pension a president begins receiving directly after leaving office. 
 
As the law stands, the pension is €125,000 per year, with a prospective 28 year old ex-president able to receive over €9 million during their "retirement". 
 
"That can be said for any type of person in any type of work, just because someone is of the age of 21 and then leaves office at the age of 28 doesn't mean that they haven't done the due work that would have been done by anyone at the age of 35 or over," she stated.
 
"If someone is young and puts in the work into that office then possibly yes, the pension should be changed because it's quite a high pension for anyone at the moment anyway. But it doesn't mean they don't deserve it."
 
The referendum will take place tomorrow, alongside the Marriage Referendum as well as a by-election in Carlow-Kilkenny. 
 
Polls will be open from 7am to 10pm. 
 
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