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The Citizens Assembly




The Citizens Assembly is currently considering the issue of “The Challenges and Opportunities of an Ageing Population”. The purpose of the Assembly is to consider a number of issues facing the State. The Oireachtas Resolution approving the establishment of the Assembly in July 2016 set out the following five issues for consideration: 1.    The eighth amendment of the Constitution; 2.    How we best respond to the challenges and opportunities of an ageing population; 3.    Fixed term parliaments; 4.    The manner in which referenda are held; and 5.    How the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change. The Assembly can also consider any other topics referred to it. The Assembly is comprised of 99 members and a Chairperson, Ms Justice Mary Laffoy, who was appointed by the Government. The membership of the Assembly, which was chosen at random, is broadly representative of the population according to the census in terms of age, gender, class and urban/rural residence. As a result there were 48 men and 51 women in the original 99. There were 6 farmers. There were 28 people from Dublin, 25 from the rest of Leinster, 27 from Munster and 19 from Connacht-Ulster. However, since the initial meeting in October 2015, 31 members have been replaced. An Expert Advisory Group has been established to assist the Assembly in terms of preparing information and advice. A list of experts in relation to each of the topics is available on the Citizen’s Assembly website. There are six key principles governing the work of the Assembly. These are openness, fairness, equality of voice, efficiency, respect and collegiality. The next meeting of the Assembly is on 09 and 10 July 2017, when the topic of an ageing population will be considered for a second weekend. The conclusion of the Assembly will form the basis of individual reports and recommendations. It will then be for the Houses of the Oireachtas to further debate the issues. The Assembly will complete its work within one year from the date of its first meeting. It is possible for the public to view the meetings of the Citizens’ Assembly as they are live streamed on the Citizen’s Assembly website. Archive footage is also available to view on the website. Submissions are currently being accepted on the topic of “How the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change” and can be made until 11 August 2017. A link to the Citizens Assembly website can be found here.