In July 2016, the Oireachtas passed a resolution to establish a Citizens’ Assembly which is to consider a limited number of issues. The Assembly has a time limit of one year from the date of the first Assembly meeting for completion of its work. It held its first meeting in October 2016.
The Assembly comprises a chairperson appointed by the Government and 99 citizens entitled to vote in referenda who were selected so as to be broadly representative of Irish society. Substitutes can be appointed who are entitled to contribute to the proceedings and vote in their own name. The Assembly agrees its own rules of procedure for the conduct of its business.
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 the work of the Assembly.
All matters before the Assembly are to be determined by a majority vote of the members present and voting, other than the chairperson. The chairman has a casting vote if the vote is tied.
Issues to be considered
The issues the Assembly have being asked to consider are:
- 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
The first issue to be discussed is the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. The Assembly may also be asked to consider other matters.
The Assembly will report and make recommendations to the Houses of the Oireachtas on each issue as soon as it has completed its deliberations on it.
You can find more information at citizensassembly.ie