There are 99 citizen members of the Assembly, in addition to the Chairperson. Members were chosen at random to represent the views of the people of Ireland, and will be broadly representative of society as reflected in the Census, including age, gender, social class, regional spread etc. They must also be on the electoral register to vote in a referendum.
Since the inaugural meeting on 15 October 2016, 38 members have been replaced.
- 11 new members were recruited between the October Inaugural meeting and the November meeting of the Assembly.
- A further 4 members were recruited following the November meeting and before the January meeting.
- 9 new members were recruited between the January and February meetings.
- 7 new members were recruited after the April meeting.
- 6 new members were recruited after the June meeting.
- 1 new member was recruited after the July meeting.
Of these 38 who have been replaced, 17 were initially recruited and indicated a willingness to participate in the Assembly but never attended any meeting and were therefore replaced.
Following the February meeting, a further 4 members did withdraw from the process and were not replaced. A decision was taken by the Chair not to replace any members who withdrew from the process following the February meeting. It was agreed that this was the most appropriate course of action given the amount and complexity of material already circulated and considered in detail on the issue of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution during the previous Assembly weekend meetings. It also took account of the fact that there were only two weekends left to consider and make recommendations on this topic.
For this reason, 95 members were actually due to attend the April meeting of the Assembly. Since the April meeting, a further 10 members in total have withdrawn from the process.
Most of those who have withdrawn have done so for personal reasons including illness, illness of a family member, change in employment or circumstances.
All members substituted on to the Assembly have been recruited by REDC in accordance with the demographic quotas in the Census.
Click here for a list of members of the Assembly.
The Honourable Mary Laffoy
The Honourable Mary Laffoy graduated from University College Dublin with a B.A. degree in 1968. Subsequently, between 1968 and 1971 she studied law at University College Dublin and at the Honorable Society of King's Inns in Dublin. She was called to the Bar in July 1971.
She practised as a barrister from the Michaelmas term in 1971 until her appointment to the High Court. She was admitted to the Inner Bar in the Michaelmas term of 1987.
She was appointed a Judge of the High Court in April 1995. While on the High Court Bench, she was primarily involved in civil litigation, principally in the area of chancery law.
She was appointed to the Supreme Court in October 2013 and retired in June 2017.
How were the citizen members selected?
Following a public tendering process, Red C Research and Marketing Ltd were engaged to select the 99 citizen members, and 99 substitutes, of the Assembly.
The members were recruited in September and October 2016. The members were chosen at random and are broadly representative of demographic variables as reflected in the Census. The quotas each interviewer had to reach in the district electoral division (DED) they were allocated to were based on the following demographic variables: gender, age and social class.
Interviewers recruited participants by cold calling door-to-door to households. Interviewers selected a start address at random within the area allocated to them. They then tried to complete interviews at every nth house within that specific location. Within each household a random selection process was used to identify the person to try and recruit if more than one person was available.
Direct applications from members of the public to take part in the Assembly were not accepted. Similarly, interviewers were not allowed to recruit friends or family together.
Prior to the commencement of the recruitment process for members of the Citizens’ Assembly, it was decided that members of advocacy groups on the topics to be considered would be excluded from membership of the Assembly. The rationale for this decision is based on the fact that interest groups are invited to make submissions on the matters concerning them.
In order to establish this information, during the recruitment process all potential members were asked if they currently were, had been or intend to act in an advocacy role for any interest or lobby group campaigning on any of the issues to be considered by the Assembly. This was asked of potential members again during the validation phone call with Red C who carried out recruitment on behalf of the Assembly. Any potential members who answered yes to these questions were excluded from the process.
Citizen members who have previously expressed views on any of the issues before the Assembly will not be excluded from the Assembly which by the random nature of its make up may include Members who have views on either side of a debate. These variations in opinion are to be expected and are part of the value of the Assembly. However the Chair of the Assembly has asked that members refrain from publicly commenting on the issues while the discussion is ongoing as a mark of respect to their fellow citizen members and to protect the integrity of the Assembly process.
Further details on the methodology used to identify the members is available here.
A copy of the recruitment questionnaire used by Red C interviewers is available to view here. A copy of the follow-up validation questionnaire can be viewed here.
A booklet was prepared for potential members to provide further advice on what is involved in being a Member, which is available to view here.
How was the Chairperson selected?
Ms. Justice Laffoy was appointed Chairperson of the Assembly by the Government on 27 July 2016.