Fixed term parliaments

The Resolution approving establishment of the Assembly outlines five topics to be considered by the Assembly. 

Fixed term parliaments is the final topic the Assembly considered. It is understood that this topic was included at the request of the Independent Alliance during the Programme for Government formation in 2016.

The Assembly will produce a report and make recommendations to the Houses of the Oireachtas in due course.

Schedule of Meetings

It is a matter for the Assembly to structure its work programme and agree a date for consideration of this topic. At the private session during the September 2017 meeting, the Members agreed to switch the order of the Assembly's remaining two topics, fixed term parliaments and the manner in which referenda are held respectively.

The Assembly was to consider this topic on 3-4 March 2018, however due to severe weather conditions this was postponed. The meeting was rescheduled and took place on the weekend 14 -15 April 2018.

A revised full calendar of meetings is available here.

Recommendations

A total of four questions appeared on the ballot and the recommendations were reached by majority vote.

The following recommendations were made by the Assembly;

 

  1. 51% voted that the current constitutional position, as regards the dissolution of Dáil Éireann should be changed.
  2. 59% voted that if the current constitutional position as regards the dissolution of Dáil Éireann is changed, the length of the fixed parliamentary term should be four years.
  3. 95% voted that if the current constitutional position as regards the dissolution of Dáil Éireann is changed there should be a fixed term that can be cut short subject to certain conditions.
  4. 66% voted that if the current constitutional position as regards the dissolution of the Dáil is changed, and there is a fixed term which can be cut short subject to certain conditions, the approval of the Cabinet (which includes the Taoiseach) should be needed for an early general election.
  5. 52% voted that if the current constitutional position as regards the dissolution of the Dáil is changed, and there is a fixed term which can be cut short subject to certain conditions, the approval of a majority of the members of Dáil Éireann should be needed.
  6. 70% voted that if the current constitutional position as regards the dissolution of the Dáil is changed, and there is a fixed term which can be cut short subject to certain conditions, the approval of a super-majority of the members of Dáil Éireann (eg two thirds) should be needed.
  7. 84% voted that if the current constitutional position as regards the dissolution of the Dáil is changed, and there is a fixed term which can be cut short subject to certain conditions, the approval of the President should be needed.

Voting took place by secret ballot and the voting process and counting of the ballot papers was overseen by former Returning Office for County Dublin, John Fitzpatrick, and his team.

Past Consideration of the Issue

Constitution Review Group

The Constitution Review Group chaired by T.K Whitaker considered the issue of fixed term parliaments in terms of the articles of the Constitution that would require amendment should fixed term parliaments be introduced. The articles affected would be Articles 13, 16 and 28.

The relevant extracts from the Report of the Constitution Review Group 1996 can be read below:

Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Fixed Period for the Duration of Dáil Éireann) Bill 2015

This Private Members Bill was introduced in Dáil Éireann in October 2015 by Deputy Shane Ross T.D., now Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. 

The Bill passed the first stage in the Dáil but it did not progress any further.

Submissions

The Assembly invited members of the public, representative groups and citizen organisations to make a submission on this topic. The submissions process formally opened on 5 January 2018 and closed at 12pm on 23 February 2018.

To view submissions received click here.

Reports

Once completed, the report will be available here.

Video Archive

The Citizens’ Assembly was live streamed and therefore available for the public to view. 

Archive footage is available to view here