INAUGURAL MEETING OF THE CITIZENS’ ASSEMBLY TAKES PLACE AT DUBLIN CASTLE – Dublin Saturday, 15th October 2016.
Lensmen were on site for the welcome meeting of the Citizens’ Assembly at Dublin Castle. The Assembly is a body comprised of the Chairperson, Ms Justice Mary Laffoy, and 99 citizens randomly selected to be broadly representative of the Irish electorate, with a mandate to look at several key issues.
The inaugural meeting of the Assembly was an introductory session, allowing members of the Assembly to meet one another and better understand the role they will play in the Assembly.
A Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, who addressed the Assembly, thanked the members for participating in the Assembly and outlined the importance of the process, saying, “Your work in managing and achieving this strong consensus on behalf of us all will affect – indeed profoundly affect – how we live our individual lives and our national life in the Republic of Ireland in the years to come. Therefore, on behalf of the Oireachtas, I thank all of you for your commitment, civic generosity and, above all, courage in contributing to this national discussion of such significant import.
The Taoiseach called for respect for the members “On behalf of the Oireachtas; I ask everybody to please allow the members of the Assembly the necessary space and respect to go about their work. As citizens of this Republic, let us consider the work of the assembly and the issues at hand according to the highest standards of our best selves.”
The Chair of the Assembly, Ms Justice Mary Laffoy, welcomed the Members of the Assembly and encouraged members of the public to be involved saying, “I believe that the Assembly will be a substantial and comprehensive national endeavour, one which, upon its conclusion, we can look back upon with some pride. The proceedings of this Assembly will be broadcast live on the web, and I strongly encourage Irish citizens, at home and abroad, to tune into the debate and get involved.”
Chairperson Ms Justice Laffoy continued, “Being a member of this Assembly is a rare privilege and a significant undertaking, and in agreeing to participate, the members are giving freely their time in service to the State. It is critical to the success and integrity of this Assembly that the members can freely and confidently contribute and express their views without fear of harassment or criticism.”
Assembly members also heard from three guest speakers:
– Maurice Manning, Chairperson of the Expert Advisory Group on Commemorations and Chancellor of the National University of Ireland, who spoke about ‘A history of social change in Ireland’;
– Ita Mangan, Chairperson of the Citizens’ Information Board, spoke to the Citizens about ‘Citizens’ Involvement in key decisions for Ireland’s future;
– David Farrell, Professor of Politics at UCD and Research Director of the Convention on the Constitution (2012-2014) spoke about ‘Citizens’ role in decision making – Ireland’s experience to date’.
The Assembly then met in private sessions to deliberate the Work Programme, Key Principles, Rules and Procedures, and Calendar for the Assembly in the future.
A Steering Group will be implemented to support the Assembly’s efficient and effective discharge of its role and functions. This Steering Group shall assist with planning and operational issues associated with the work programme. It will consist of the Chairperson, Ms Justice Mary Laffoy, and a number of Assembly Members selected by the Members.
As provided for in the Oireachtas resolution, an Expert Advisory Group will also be established to assist the Assembly’s work in preparing information and advice.
The Expert Advisory Group will be comprised of academics and practitioners across a number of specific fields of interest, including:
– Political/ Social Science;
– Constitutional Law and Theory;
– Medical Law and Ethics;
– Medicine and Obstetrics.
However, the Expert Advisory Group’s composition and focus may change during the Assembly’s lifetime. The main roles of the Expert Advisory Group include supporting the Chair and the Secretariat in constructing a fair, balanced and comprehensive work programme for the Assembly on each of the topics; providing expert background advice on the issues being discussed; and advising on the criteria for selecting specialists an expert to appear before the Assembly.
The Citizens’ Assembly will meet again on 25th November in the Grand Hotel in Malahide, at which time it will consider the first item referred to by the Dáil Resolution; the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.
All public sessions of the Assembly, including the inaugural meeting, will be live-streamed on www.citizensassembly.ie
Media Contacts: Síle Murphy / Nora Eastwood Q4PR, 086 0288 132 / 01 4751444
Twitter: @CitizAssembly # CitizensAssembly
Images by Susan @Lensmen
Notes to Editor
Details of the Terms of Reference and Membership of the Expert Advisory Group will be considered by the Assembly later today. Once agreed, details will be made available on the Assembly’s website.
RED C Research and Marketing Ltd were appointed to provide a representative sample of 99 members of the public and substitutes for the Citizens’ Assembly. The methodology used to select the 99 Citizens, the names of each member, and the counties they come from will be available on www.citizensassembly.ie following the inaugural meeting today.
The Assembly will call for submissions from representative groups, citizen organisations and members of the public outlining their views in advance of Assembly meetings, and these submissions will help form the work programme for the debate. More information about this can be found at www.citizensassembly.ie.
Once the Assembly has agreed on the rules and procedures and work programme, they will be available on the website – www.citizensassembly.ie.