Friday 9 December 2016

Five things you need to know about today's first meeting of the Citizens' Assembly

Published 15/10/2016 | 10:21

Repealing the Eighth Amendment remains a burning issue.
Repealing the Eighth Amendment remains a burning issue.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny will today launch the first meeting of the Citizens’ Assembly.

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Here are five things you need to know about it:

1. Where is it on and can I attend?

The meeting will take place in Dublin Castle  this afternoon at 1.15pm.

Members of the public can watch the proceedings online and it is expected to conclude at 3.15pm.

2. What is the Citizens’ Assembly?

The Citizens' Assembly is a group of people which has been established to examine potential changes to the following:

Ireland’s abortion laws;

Fixed term parliaments;

How referenda are held;

How Ireland is tackling climate change;

The response to challenges facing the ageing population.

It comprises 99 people who were selected at random to fairly represent the electorate.

The assembly is entirely independent of politicians and will be chaired by Supreme Court judge Mary Laffoy.

3. What will be happening today?

There will be an introductory address from the Taoiseach and other speakers.

The meeting will then enter a private session, where the procedures of the Assembly will be discussed.

The first item on the Assembly’s agenda is the future of the Eighth Amendment, the law giving equal status to the life of a mother and her unborn child.

While it will be addressed today, a discussion on the Eighth Amendment will not begin until the next weekend meeting of the Assembly on November 25.

They will call for submissions in advance of next month's meeting.

4. Why has it been established?

The Assembly has been introduced because it welcomes different opinions and views from people other than politicians.

However, some people have criticised the Assembly, claiming it has been set up as a means to delay decisions on controversial matters.

5. How is the Assembly meant to make a difference?

The assembly will publish a report on each of the five issues listed above to the Oireachtas by May next year.

It will then be deliberated on by a yet-to-be-established cross-party Dáil committee.

This committee will then make its own recommendations, based on the Assembly’s views.

These will subsequently be forwarded to the Dáil and Seanad for a further vote in autumn 2017/early 2018.

The Assembly has said that a recommendation and report on the Eighth Amendment will be submitted to the Oireachtas in the first half of 2017.

You can make submissions to the Assembly through this link

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