Citizens’ Assembly Makes Recommendations On ‘Fixed Term Parliaments’

Sunday April 15, 2018: The Citizens’ Assembly (the Assembly) has today voted and made a number of recommendations on its final topic – Fixed Term Parliaments. The recommendations of the Members of the Assembly will now form the basis of a report that will be submitted to the Houses of the Oireachtas.

The recommendations were reached by ballot paper voting and follow a weekend of deliberation which focussed on the topic. These included the current law and practice on the summoning and dissolution of Dáil Éireann, the history of the practice in Ireland, the experience and practice in other jurisdictions, and the pros and cons were fixed term parliaments to be introduced in Ireland.

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.

 

The Chair of the Assembly the Honourable Ms Mary Laffoy said: “On this, our concluding weekend as the Assembly we were very lucky to receive presentations from an incredibly talented group of speakers in this topic all of whom are experts in their fields. I would like to thank them all for making the journey to Dublin to assist us in our task.

“I would like to thank all of the 65 expert speakers we heard from across the past 11 meetings for sharing their wisdom, professional knowledge and expertise. They provided us with the information to make informed recommendations for each of the topics considered. I would also like to mention those individuals who shared their own personal experiences of the matters we looked at.”

At this final meeting of the Citizens’ Assembly, The Honourable Ms Mary Laffoy went on to acknowledge the contribution the Members have made to the issues they were tasked with discussing. “The Members of this Assembly have, together, been through a very unique experience. Participation in an exercise in deliberative democracy is unlike other forms of group engagement.

“The commitment, which the Members have shown, to the Assembly’s key principles of openness, fairness, equality of voice, efficiency, respect, and collegiality have meant that all of the Members’ work has been conducted with the utmost deference to other’s opinions, has allowed for a frankness in discussing often very difficult material, all the while approaching the work programme with a level of diligence and commitment which is, I believe, quite unparalleled for a group of ordinary citizens.

“This has been the central tenet of what this process has been designed to achieve - to put the citizen at the heart of decision making and to ensure that the decisions that are made are the product of fair and reasonable discussion and debate among citizens. I am absolutely satisfied that this Assembly has successfully accomplished these objectives, and I truly believe that each of the Members, past and present, should take great pride in the input which they have made to the public debate on each of the five topics.

“Your contribution has been an outstanding example of public service. I hope all of the Members will feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when they look back on their time with the Citizens’ Assembly. I know I will.”

The full ballot paper, presentations and associated papers made to the Assembly are available on the Assembly website. All public sessions of the Assembly can be watched back on the Assembly’s YouTube Channel .

 

 ENDS//

 

Media Contact: Páraic Gallagher, Q4PR, 087 818 0555