A meeting of the Citizens Assembly took place on Saturday the 15th at Dublin Castle where a decision was made to hold 4 meetings on the subject of restrictions set out by the constitution on abortion. After these meeting, a report will be submitted to legislators.
According to RTÉ, “the assembly launched today is the first official public consultation on any aspect of the Irish Constitution to exclude legislators.” The last convention that talked on the topic of gay marriage in Ireland saw 34% of those present were legislators. This time, 99 citizens (along with Judge Laffoy and Taoiseach Enda Kenny) were chosen in order to properly represent the electorate and their views on the matter of the 8th amendment.
Dublin Castle where the meeting was held
Members of the advisory group include obstetricians, constitutional lawyers and a professor of medical law and ethics. The report finalised at the end of the meetings will be submitted to the Oireachtas committee for further discussion. This committee will then advise the Irish Government: the choice if left to them and the Seanad as to whether a referendum of the eight amendment will be held. The next meeting will take place on the 25th of November, while the final report is expected to be delivered at the end of next June.
The difficulty facing the coalition is whether to aim for a gradual introduction of abortion rights for serious and severe cases, or to push for total freedom with rights to abortion.
The Citizens Assembly will also tackle the topics of the aging population in Ireland, climate change, fix term parliaments and the issue of how referendums are held.