Thursday, 11 July 2019
Citizens' Assemblies Bill 2019 [Seanad]: Second and Subsequent Stages
I will be brief. This is a fairly simple Bill, primarily facilitating the use of the register of electors for selection of certain Citizens' Assemblies. This is fairly straightforward but I will say a few words about the concept from the perspective of somebody who was a member of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. We had some doubts about the setting up of the Citizens' Assembly, thinking it might delay something which I felt needed to be done quite quickly. However, we would all acknowledge that it was a very positive development. It allowed an issue that was very difficult for many people in Ireland and had been suppressed for many years to be debated, facts and figures to be considered and deliberations on the facts from experts in the area to be discussed. It facilitated a change of perspective for many people in Ireland on this issue. I know several Citizens' Assemblies have been proposed, that on the issue of gender equality being the most immediate. One has also been proposed to discuss a directly elected mayor for the Dublin area.
These fora provide an opportunity for issues that need that level of scrutiny to be deliberately considered over a period of time. It makes sense to use the register of electors to select participants for such an assembly. I do not want to say anything more on the Bill. It is important that we get it through and facilitate the intention of the Government in this regard.