A Citizens’ Assembly brings citizens together to discuss and consider important legal and policy issues facing Ireland. The Assembly then makes recommendations and reports back to the Oireachtas.
The most recent Citizens’ Assembly met 12 times between October 2016 and April 2018 and published its final report on 21 June 2018. The 5 issues that the last Citizens’ Assembly were 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
The Citizens' Assembly in 2020
In June 2019, the government announced the establishment of a new Citizens’ Assembly to consider gender equality. Dr Catherine Day, former Secretary General of the European Commission, was appointed by the Government as chairperson. The Assembly has been asked to report on:
- The barriers to equality in Irish society
- Gender equality in the workplace, and to look at the value placed on work that is traditionally held by women
- How to make sure that women are able to fully participate in leadership and decision making in the workplace, politics and public life
- The importance of child care and of having a good work-life balance
- How men and women share caring responsibilities, especially in the family
- The reasons why women are more likely to be employed in low pay sectors
Several meetings that were due to take place in the first half of 2020 have been postponed because of COVID-19.
Members of the Citizens' Assembly
Members of the Citizens Assembly are selected at random from the electoral register. They should reflect Irish society in terms of age, gender, social class and regional spread.
How the Assembly works
Each Assembly agrees its own rules and procedures for how it will carry out its business. Its meetings must follow 6 key principles to ensure fairness and avoid bias.
The Assembly may invite and accept submissions from people who are interested in any of the issues being discussed, such as expert advisory groups.
When the Assembly finishes considering each issue, it develops a series of draft recommendations and votes on each. It then reports to the Houses of the Oireachtas and makes recommendations. The next step for the Government is to provide a response to each recommendation and arrange 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.
Full details of previous Assembly meetings, presentations and results, are available on citizensassembly.ie. You can watch the archived videos of the Assembly’s meetings.
Read more on citizensassembly.ie