The Citizens’ Assembly was established by the Irish government in October 2016 (following a commitment made by Fine Gael in its 2016 general election manifesto); its work concluded in the late spring of 2018. It followed closely the model of the 2012-14 Irish Constitutional Convention in having as its members 99 citizens selected at random by a leading market research company, RED C, and an independent chair (a supreme court judge), Mary Laffoy. David Farrell (‘Research leader’) and Jane Suiter led the research on the Assembly, funded by the Irish Research Council.
The parliamentary resolution establishing the Citizens’ Assembly gave it five items to consider: abortion, the challenges and opportunities of an ageing population, fixed-term parliaments, the manner in which referenda are held, and how the state can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change
This exercise differed from the previous Convention on the Constitution in that politicians were not active members. Their conclusions formed the basis of a number of reports and recommendations that were submitted to the Irish parliament for further debate by the national representatives. To date, this has resulted in one successful referendum – on abortion in 2018. The Assembly’s report on climate change is currently being disused by a special committee of the parliament. Further details on the outcome of the Assembly are provided in the following table.
The submissions received are here: Link to public submission
The presentations and videos of on all topics are available here: Link to presentations and videos
And the initial speech on the place of abortion in the Irish constitution here: Link to YouTube video of initial speech
|Topic||Numbers of days of meetingsa||Public submissionsb||Output||Date report sent to Parliament||Government reaction|
|The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution (abortion)||9.5 days||12,200||1 key recommendation (in various parts)||29 June 2017||Considered by a special parliamentary committee. Government accepted proposal for a referendum. Referendum passed in May 2018|
|How we best respond to the challenges and opportunities of an ageing population||4 days||122||15 recommendations plus 6 ancillary ones||8 December 2017||No reaction to date|
|How the state can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change||4 days||1,185||13 recommendations||18 April 2018||A special parliamentary committee has been established to consider the report|
|The manner in which referenda are held||1.5 days||206||8 recommendations||21 June 2018||No reaction to date|
|Fixed term parliaments||1 day||8||7 recommendations||21 June 2018||No reaction to date|
a Based on the published schedules for each weekend. This does not account for timetable over-runs, which proved to be pretty acute on several weekends. The numbers of days of meeting have been rounded to the nearest half day, excluding the time spent voting and counting the ballots.
b The number of public submissions on the topic in question published on the CA website.