The inaugural meeting of the Citizens' Assembly was held on 25th January 2020. The inaugural meeting can be watched here.
Session 1 - Social Change in Ireland
Dr. Evelyn Mahon, Trinity College, Dublin - "Social Change in Ireland"
Dr. Evelyn Mahon delivered a presentation on "Social Change in Ireland".
The Assembly will complete its work over 5 weekend meetings.
Generally speaking the format for the weekend meetings will be as follows:
- Introductory remarks by the Chairperson
- Expert presentations
- Presentations from civil society and advocacy groups
- Consideration of submissions by Members of the public
- Question and Answer Sessions and Debates
- Roundtable discussions
Deliberation and Facilitation of Discussions
Deliberation by Members is a cornerstone of the Assembly exercise. Roundtable discussions will be built into the timetable for each Assembly meeting to allow the Members the opportunity to further examine, discuss, debate and enhance their understanding of the material they are considering.
To assist with this discussion, facilitators and note-takers will be present at each table. Roomaxx Ltd were selected to provide this service following a competitive tendering process.
Roundtable discussions following a presentation
Following a presentation from an expert or invited speaker, the Assembly typically will break into private session roundtable discussions to allow the Members to discuss what they have heard and to hear each other’s views. The role of the facilitator in this case will be to:
- Facilitate a discussion in keeping with the Ground Rules and to focus on the conversation starters provided by the Secretariat.
- Note any questions from the table which the Members would like them to ask on their behalf in the public Q&A session. This must be agreed with all Members and should also include agreement on priority questions with their table in case there isn’t time for every question. This is not obligatory as Members are free to ask questions directly of the panellist.
- Record a short summary of the discussion for record keeping purposes. Again, this must be agreed with all Members.
From time to time at the Assembly, roundtable discussions may be scheduled to allow Members to consider matters in more detail; for example, to begin thinking about how recommendations might be formed.
The role of the facilitator in this case will be to:
- Facilitate a discussion in keeping with the Ground Rules and to focus on the conversation starters provided by the secretariat.
- Record a summary of the discussion and feed this back to the Chair of the Assembly in the public session. This must be agreed with all Members. In undertaking this task, the facilitators and Members will be aware of the following:
(i) The facilitator will speak on behalf of the Members at the table. As such, in describing the discussion the facilitator will avoid language like ‘it is our view/ we believe’. As the facilitator is not part of the discussion, phrases like, ‘it is the view of this table’ ‘some at this table expressed the view’ etc will be used.
(ii) Where possible the facilitator will provide feedback on the full range of views expressed at each table. The role of the facilitator in these sessions will not be to present an agreed conclusion to a discussion, but rather to summarise the discussion that has taken place. In the spirit of equality of voice, one of the key principles of the Assembly, it is important that the full range of views is aired and reported to the Chair.
All matters before the Assembly will be voted upon and recommendations based on the majority view of the Members will be made to the Houses of the Oireachtas.
The Government will then provide a response to each recommendation of the Assembly and, if accepting the recommendation, will indicate the timeframe it envisages for the holding of any related referendum.