Wednesday 22 November 2017

Seven leave think-tank over naming of members

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams speaking at the inaugural Constitutional Convention at Dublin Castle
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams speaking at the inaugural Constitutional Convention at Dublin Castle

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

SEVEN members of the public dropped out of the new think- tank on the Constitution because they didn't want to be identified publicly.

Following a farcical controversy, the identity of the 66 citizens – the seven were replaced – chosen at random for the Constitutional Convention will finally be made known this week.

The new body met for the first time at Dublin Castle at the weekend in what Taoiseach Enda Kenny called a "significant, historic event in the political and democratic life of this country".

Chaired by Concern Worldwide chief executive Tom Arnold, the Convention's 100 members is made up of:

• 66 citizen members chosen at random from the electoral register to be representative of society in age, gender, region and social class.

• 29 members of the Oireachtas.

• Four members of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Some of the citizen members didn't want to be named, despite the convention's work being carried out in public.

A compromise was reached whereby their exact addresses will not be given, but their name and area will be listed.

But this was agreed in private after the first meeting where members were filmed and photographed.

Addressing the Convention, Mr Kenny said it ''is a new and stimulating means of examining constitutional reform.

"One which puts the people in their proper place at the very heart of the process, because it is to them that the Constitution of our country belongs," he said.

And he stressed that the Government is under no obligation to accept a recommendation.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said the Constitution reflected aspirations for our country as they were in the 1930s, when it was written.


"We have seen how our Constitution has not always served the citizens of our country equally, in particular the nation's children. The recent amendment on children's rights will, I hope, remedy that omission," he said.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin urged Convention members not to be constrained by their remit and said it would only be a success if it brings forward proposals that reflect the values of the Irish people.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said his party wants to see discussion on voting rights in presidential elections for people living in Northern Ireland with an Irish passport.

Irish Independent

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