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Government appoints Chairperson to Citizens' Assembly

The Cabinet, at its meeting today, approved the appointment of Supreme Court Judge, Ms Justice Mary Laffoy as Chairperson of the Citizens’ Assembly.
The ‘Programme for a Partnership Government’ commits the Government to ‘the establishment of a Citizens’ Assembly, within six months and without participation by politicians, with a mandate to look at a limited number of key issues over an extended time period.’
A Resolution approving the establishment of the Assembly was recently passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas. The following topics will be for consideration by the Assembly and the Assembly will make a Report to the Houses of the Oireachtas on each item:
(i) the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution;

(ii) how we best respond to the challenges and opportunities of an ageing population;

(iii) fixed term parliaments;

(iv) the manner in which referendums are held; and

(v) how the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change

The Assembly will also be asked to consider such other matters as may be referred to it.

Notes to Editors:

The Assembly will comprise the Chairperson plus 99 citizens randomly selected on the basis of being representative of the Irish electorate in terms of gender, age and regional spread. An amendment has been made to the Electoral Act 1992 to permit the electoral register to be used in the selection of the citizen members. Selection will be by means of a polling company commissioned for that purpose and this public tender will issue shortly. It is expected that the Assembly will hold its first meeting in October.
The first item which the Assembly will consider will be the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. The Assembly will first make a report and recommendation on this matter to the Houses of the Oireachtas. It will then be referred for consideration to a Committee of both Houses which will in turn bring its conclusions to the Houses for debate. When the Assembly has completed its Report on this topic it will then consider the other items listed in the Resolution.

The Assembly has a deadline of twelve months from its establishment to complete work on all its items.

Estimated set up cost for the Assembly for 2016 is €200,000 and this will be provided from within existing resources in the Department of the Taoiseach. Estimated cost for 2017 is approximately €400,000.