What was the Citizens' Assembly?
The Citizens’ Assembly was a group of 99 citizen members and one chairperson, set up by the Oireachtas in 2016 to consider important legal and policy issues facing Ireland. It met 12 times between October 2016 and April 2018 and published its final report on 21 June 2018.
This final report (pdf) covers the last 2 issues considered and includes the Chairperson’s reflections on the Citizens’ Assembly process as a whole.
Issues for the Assembly
The 5 issues that the 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
Members of the Citizens' Assembly
The Assembly was made up of 99 Irish citizens and a chairperson appointed by the Government. The 99 citizens were chosen at random to represent the views of the people in Ireland. They were also selected in a way that aimed to fairly represent Irish society as reflected in Census 2011 and the Quarterly National Household Survey. Read more about the membership of the Assembly.
How the Assembly worked
The Assembly agreed its own rules and procedures for how it carried out its business.
Its meetings followed 6 key principles to ensure fairness and avoid bias.
The Assembly considered one key issue at each meeting – though several meetings were held for some issues. A series of expert advisory groups helped the Assembly in its work on each issue. The Assembly could invite and accept submissions from people who were interested in any of the issues.
When the Assembly finished considering each issue, it developed a series of draft recommendations and voted on each of them. It then reported to the Houses of the Oireachtas and made recommendations. The next step was for the Government to provide a response to each recommendation and arrange for a debate in the Oireachtas.
If the Government accepted a recommendation that the Constitution should be amended, its response in the Oireachtas included a timeframe for the holding of a referendum. This happened in the case of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.
Full details of the Assembly’s meetings, including background documents, submissions, FAQs, presentations and results, are available on citizensassembly.ie. You can watch the archived videos of the Assembly’s meetings.
Read more on citizensassembly.ie