The Assembly’s rules and procedures were agreed at the inaugural meeting and are as follows:
1. Timing, Frequency and Openness of Meetings
Meetings of the Assembly will generally take place in a hotel at weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) during 2016 and 2017. Full details of the proposed dates for these meetings are available on www.citizensassembly.ie. Members of the public will not have access to the meetings but the plenary sessions will be streamed live at www.citizensassembly.ie.
2. Role and Duties of the Chairperson
The Chairperson shall be the sole judge of order and shall be responsible for the smooth running of the Assembly in accordance with these rules and the terms of the Resolution of the Houses of the Oireachtas of July, 2016. She shall engage such support services as are necessary for the effective administration of the forum and, from time to time, make such recommendations to the Assembly on the management of business as she sees fit.
3. Work Programme
The work programme shall be agreed by the Assembly on foot of a proposal by the Chairperson. The programme shall be reviewed regularly but any subsequent changes shall only take effect with the agreement of the Assembly.
4. Steering Group
A Steering Group shall be established to support the Assembly in the efficient and effective discharge of its role and functions. In practice, the Group shall assist with planning and operational issues associated with the work programme. The Steering Group shall consist of the Chairperson and a sample of the members and such other representatives as the Assembly sees fit.
5. Protection of Members’ Privacy
While the names and general areas where Members come from will be made available on www.citizensassembly.ie, other personal details of the Members will be treated in strictest confidence. Any individual or organisation which attempts to contact a Member to try to influence their views on a particular topic will be automatically excluded from taking part in the Assembly.
6. Debates/Speaking Arrangements
The format and structure of speaking arrangements shall be agreed in advance and as a general principle, all contributions by members should be brief, respectful and non-repetitive. Any member wishing to speak should indicate and will be called upon by the Chairperson, who will endeavour to ensure fairness in the allocation of speaking time to all members. In an effort to make most efficient use of time in plenary session, members are encouraged to use the opportunity of roundtable discussions to express their views, ask further question of the experts and deliberate with one another. These discussions can be reflected in a brief report to the plenary session.
7. Tabling and Circulation of Papers
All documents received by the Assembly secretariat shall be made available to all members of the Assembly via the www.citizensassembly.ie website. Alternative arrangements will be made for those members who are not in a position to access the site. Deadlines for receipt of submissions and circulation of documents in advance of plenary meetings should be agreed by the Assembly.
8. Presentations to the Assembly
Following receipt of submissions on any matter, the Assembly may choose to hear oral presentations from any representative group or individual to assist in its deliberations. For the efficient administration of the process, the Steering Group may wish to make recommendations in relation to the selection of interested bodies to present to the Assembly. Invitations shall be issued by the Chairperson on behalf of the Assembly.
Votes, if required, shall be by secret ballot of the members present and voting. Votes shall be overseen by the Chairperson with the support of at least 2 members of the Assembly.
10. Expert Advisory Group
As provided for in the Oireachtas Resolution, the Assembly shall establish an Expert Advisory Group to assist with its work in terms of preparing information and advice. The Expert Advisory Group will be comprised of academics/practitioners across a number of specific fields of interest including political/ Social Science; Constitutional Law and Theory; Medical Law and Ethics; Medicine and Obstetrics. The composition and focus of the Expert Advisory Group may change during the lifetime of the Assembly.
11. Irish Language Facilities
A simultaneous translation service from Irish into English will be available for all plenary sessions of the forum if required.
12. Accessibility of Services and Information for Persons with Disabilities
In line with the provisions in the Disability Act 2005 and the Code of Practice on Accessibility of Public Services and Information Provided by Public Bodies, the Assembly will ensure that services and information will be accessible to all Members including those with a disability insofar as is practicable and appropriate. It is noted that all Assembly members have been selected at random to represent the views of the people of Ireland and are broadly representative of society as reflected in the Census.
13. Press and Communications
Authorised members of the media shall be permitted to attend plenary sessions of the Assembly, subject to such terms and conditions as may be laid down by the Assembly. As a general principle, the Chairperson shall act as spokesperson in relation to administrative or procedural matters.
14. Members Interaction with the Media
Members shall refrain from media interviews or public commentary while the Assembly is actively considering a topic. This shall also apply to social media.
Reports of the Assembly shall be published as soon as practicable after a decision has been reached at each meeting. It shall be possible to finalise the detail of the content of each report other than in plenary session, subject to the agreement of the Assembly.
16. Review of Procedures
The Chairperson shall consult with members of the Assembly and other interested parties and conduct such reviews of the procedures and administration of the Assembly as she sees fit.
17. Assembly Secretariat
The Chairperson shall have direction and control over the staff of the secretariat and other supports and resources available, subject to the wishes of the Assembly.