In July 2016, the Oireachtas passed a resolution establishing a Citizens’ Assembly to consider a number of issues and make recommendations on them. The Assembly held its first meeting in October 2016.
Its next meeting will be on 3-4 March 2018, when it will consider the issue of fixed-term parliaments.
Issues for the Assembly
The 5 issues that the Citizens’ Assembly was initially asked to consider were:
- The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution
- How we best respond to the challenges and opportunities of an ageing population
- Fixed-term parliaments
- The manner in which referenda are held
- How the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change
It may also be asked to consider other matters.
When the Assembly has completed its deliberations on each issue, it reports to the Houses of the Oireachtas and makes recommendations. The Government then provides a response to each recommendation and arranges for a debate in the Oireachtas.
If the Government accepts a recommendation that the Constitution should be amended, its response in the Oireachtas will include a timeframe for the holding of a referendum.
How the Assembly works
The Assembly is made up of a chairperson appointed by the Government and 99 Irish citizens, who were randomly selected so as to be broadly representative of Irish society. The Assembly has agreed its own rules and procedures for the conduct of its business. Its meetings are governed by 6 key principles to ensure fairness and avoid bias.
The Assembly may invite and accept submissions from interested parties and can seek such expert advice as it considers desirable. An expert advisory group assists it in its work on each issue.
All matters before the Assembly are to be determined by a majority vote of the members present and voting, other than the chairperson. The chair has a casting vote if the vote is tied.
Full details of the Assembly’s meetings, including background documents, submissions, FAQs, presentations and results, are available on citizensassembly.ie. You can view the Assembly’s proceedings live and on a video archive.
Read more on citizensassembly.ie