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The Citizens' Assembly - what you need to know

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The Citizens Assembly at Dublin Castle. Photo: Justin Farrelly.

The Citizens Assembly at Dublin Castle. Photo: Justin Farrelly.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny meets Citizens’ Assembly member Catherine Hayes at Dublin Castle. Photo: Justin Farrelly

Taoiseach Enda Kenny meets Citizens’ Assembly member Catherine Hayes at Dublin Castle. Photo: Justin Farrelly

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The Citizens Assembly at Dublin Castle. Photo: Justin Farrelly.

The Citizens' Assembly meets again today we look at what you need to know about it.

What is it?

The assembly was convened by the Dail in order to tackle key issues in the constitution, including the possibility of a referendum on the 8th amendment.

Justice Mary Laffoy was selected as chairperson and 99 citizens were randomly selected to sit on the assembly. They are “broadly representative” of the population of Ireland.

What’s the purpose of it?

It will address a number of issues including the constitutional ban on abortion, the 8th amendment along with other issues such as how referenda are carried out, how Ireland can become a leader in tackling climate change.

How Ireland can best respond to the challenges and opportunities of an ageing population and fixed term parliaments will also be addressed by the assembly.

Reports on these topics will be sent to the Oireachtas for further discussion.

It may also consider other issues that are referred to it.

Why do we need one?

The Programme for Partnership Government determined that the incoming Government would set up a Citizens' Assembly within six months of forming, in order to address a number of issues. There is no political involvement in the Assembly as per the agreement. 

How does it work?

Each meeting consists of a mixture of representations, Q and A sessions and round table discussions. A number of experts have been asked to address the Assembly.

The agenda of each meeting is published in advance and proceedings are live streamed.

How often do meetings take place?

This weekend marks the third meeting. The inaugural meeting took place in Dublin Castle last October.

A meeting is scheduled for every month between January and July in the Grand Hotel Malahide.

Can I have my say?

Yes. Irish citizens living at home and abroad can have their say on the topics being discussed. All submissions will be published on the Assembly website and will include the name and organisation of each person who makes a submission.

Already the assembly has received dozens of submissions. Several of the submissions on the 8th amendment were sent with the title ‘abortion is murder’, while other people have penned submissions appealing for t 8th Amendment to be repealed.

What will happen this weekend?

This weekend members of the CA will hear presentations on medical and legal issues relating to foetal abnormalities.

There will also be an ethics discussion and a presentation on how laws are made and changed.


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