Statement from the Citizens’ Assembly

        • Isolated issue with the recruitment of some replacement members in December 2017/January 2018
        • Assembly Chair satisfied this issue has no impact on work on previous topics

Since the conclusion of the Citizens’ Assembly’s most recent weekend meeting on 13th and 14th January, when it considered and voted on the Manner in which Referenda are held, the Chair of the Assembly, the Hon. Mary Laffoy has been made aware that seven of the new members who were present and voting at that weekend had been recruited in a manner which did not comply with the agreed methodology for recruitment of Assembly members. This matter was brought to the attention of the Chair, following a randomised check of the agreed recruitment methodology by the Assembly Secretariat. The matter was then raised with RED C Research and Marketing Ltd, who are responsible for the recruitment of Assembly members, who conducted an extensive audit.

This was the only weekend of the Assembly that these individuals were present, and they did not take part in earlier Assembly meetings.

These seven individuals were recruited over the Christmas period in December 2017 and January 2018, to replace members who had withdrawn from the Assembly following the conclusion of the Assembly’s consideration of How the State can make Ireland a Leader in Tackling Climate Change. The recruitment of replacement members is provided for in the Oireachtas resolution establishing the Citizens’ Assembly.

The methodology for identifying potential members agreed by RED C and the Assembly Secretariat states that RED C interviewers recruit participants by cold calling door-to-door to households in the allocated geographic area which is issued to them by RED C. No other method of recruitment was agreed.

The seven individuals in question were contacted by phone in December 2017, rather than being recruited door-to-door, and were identified as potential members through friends and family of the recruiter. All seven individuals were recruited by the same recruiter.

Since this information has come to light, RED C Research and Marketing Ltd has conducted an extensive internal audit of the recruitment practices used by RED C Research and Marketing Ltd on behalf of the Assembly since the commencement of the project. The purpose of the audit was to determine the extent to which the agreed methodology had been complied with in the most recent recruitment and to make certain that all previous recruitment by RED C on behalf of the Assembly was done in full compliance with the agreed methodology for recruitment of Assembly members.

An extensive audit was prepared by RED C Research and Marketing Ltd and furnished to the Assembly Secretariat. A copy of the audit is available on the Assembly’s website. The Management at RED C Research and Marketing Ltd have confirmed to the Assembly that they are satisfied that this is an isolated incident. The Assembly understands that RED C will make a separate statement providing further details on this matter. 

In the course of the audit process each of the seven individuals was contacted by RED C Research and Marketing Ltd as set out in the audit. Each of the seven individuals has been contacted by the Secretariat and informed that, as a result of the irregularity in recruitment they can play no further part in the Assembly.

In considering the implications of this development on the outcome of the weekend meeting on the Manner in which Referenda are held, the Chair of the Assembly, the Hon. Mary Laffoy has reflected on the impact on the voting and recommendations. The Oireachtas resolution establishing the Assembly states that “all matters before the Assembly will be determined by a majority of the votes of the members present and voting”.

In reviewing the outcome of the weekend meeting on The Manner in which referenda are held, because of the fact that seven members were not recruited in compliance with the agreed methodology, the majority view of the Assembly cannot now be determined in respect of Question 7, Question 8b, Question 10a and Question 10b (see accompanying editors note).

In the interests of transparency and in keeping with the principles of the Assembly, the Chair of the Assembly, the Hon. Mary Laffoy, has decided that the Assembly’s report to the Oireachtas on this topic will provide full details of this issue.

The Chair is satisfied that this has no impact on the work of the Assembly on previous topics or on its final topic.

Speaking about these developments, the Chair of the Assembly, the Hon. Mary Laffoy stated: “I am obviously disappointed that the Assembly finds itself in a position where these seven individuals, who were recruited in December 2017 and January 2018, have been recruited in a manner which is inconsistent with the agreed methodology. The extensive audit which has been conducted by RED C has confirmed that this is an isolated incident and is confined to the actions of one recruiter. I would encourage members of the public with an interest in this matter to consider the audit in detail as it provides full clarification on the incident in question. More importantly it also provides clarity and reassurance about the recruitment of Members of the Assembly prior to this incident.  I want to assure the public in the clearest possible terms, that I am satisfied that this is an isolated incident, and that it has no impact on the work of the Assembly on previous topics.

 “I can also confirm that the seven individuals in question have been informed of the position and as such will play no further part in the work of the Assembly. While this incident is regrettable, I believe that the actions which we have taken and will take to address the situation, ensure that the robustness of our work and the transparency and openness in which it has been conducted, can be maintained.  The Assembly has, at all times taken every aspect of its work with the upmost seriousness, including ensuring that its membership is representative of the population as reflected in the Census.”

ENDS

Media Contact : Paraic Gallagher, Q4PR  087 818 0555, 01 475 1444

RED C Media Contact : Catherine Logan, Stratcom 086 811 4785

Relevant Documentation

Please click on the links below to access the following documents:

The following additional documents are referenced in the internal audit prepared by RED C and have been available on our website here. For ease of access, they can also be accessed by clicking on the links below:

Note to editors Methodology for identifying potential Members

99 full members and 99 substitutes were recruited in September/October 2016. RED C Interviewers recruited participants by cold calling door-to-door to households in their allocated DED area which was issued to them by RED C. No other method of recruitment was permitted.

A detailed random multi-level approach was used for development of a representative sample frame that could be used for the recruitment of both full members and substitutes to the Assembly. The approach used was in line with best practice Market Research standards.

  • Sampling points were selected on a random basis in accordance with Census 2011 data and QNHS population estimates to ensure that they were completely nationally representative in terms of geography, i.e. ensuring we had the correct number of points in different locations based on population. 
  • In order to do this, the first step of the process involved the stratification of the sample by region across 15 broad areas representative of the Urban/Rural split within the four main regions of Dublin, Rest of Leinster, Munster and Connaught/Ulster. 
  • Using this area stratification, it was determined how many points would be needed within each broad area to be representative of the national population. Based on the number of points needed in each, individual points were then chosen by selecting every nth DED point from the census list for that area. 
  • Detailed demographic quotas were also set to ensure the sample was representative of all adults based on both Census 2011 and QNHS population estimates. Quotas were set based on gender, age and social grade based on current working status.

In each DED area, interviewers were asked to recruit half of their participants to be full members and half to be substitutes for the Assembly. The quotas for substitutes closely matched those for the full members in each DED.

Each interviewer was issued with a quota sheet from RED C which specified the quotas which can be categorised as follows:

  • DED area 
  • Gender 
  • Age breaks 
  • Social class

Interviewers selected a start address at random within the DED 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, as the members of the Assembly had to be chosen at random to ensure a completely unbiased approach and be broadly representative of all citizens using demographic variables as reflected in the Census. Similarly, interviewers were not allowed to recruit friends or family together.

For quality control purposes, validation checks were conducted after recruitment by RED C’s Call Centre in order to verify participant’s details, confirm that they had been recruited properly and that they were definitely willing to attend.

During the recruitment and validation process each member confirmed that they were entitled to vote at a referendum, and confirmed that they have not been nor intend to be acting in an advocacy role for any interest or lobby group currently campaigning on any of the issues to be considered by the Assembly.

An information booklet was prepared for potential Members to provide advice on what is involved in being a member on the Assembly.

Recruitment of replacement members in December 2017

In advance of the January 2018 meeting 13 new members were recruited to the Citizens’ Assembly.

This issue concerns 7 of those recruited. They have been informed that they will play no further part in the Citizens’ Assembly.

Results of the Assembly vote on 14th January

Question 7: In the event of more than one referendum at the same time, the Assembly voted that the maximum number should be no more than two (41.7%);

Question 8b: 52% voted in favour that when there are more than two options on the ballot paper in a constitutional referendum the outcome should be decided by PR STV;

In question 10 the Assembly voted on a number of measures to enhance voter turnout in referendums;

Question 10a: In 10a the Assembly voted in favour of early voting in the weeks before the poll;

Question 10b: In 10b the Assembly voted in favour of extended voting over a number of days (51%).

Key Principles of the Assembly
  1. Openness: the Citizens’ Assembly will operate with complete transparency with all plenary meetings being broadcast live at www.citizensassembly.ie and all documentation freely available. The Assembly should be open to hearing from all sections of society on any issue, including our Diaspora and young people under 18 years of age, who are not directly represented in the Assembly membership;
  2. Fairness: it is important that we allow the full spectrum of views to be heard on every issue and that our briefing material for Assembly members is of the highest quality;
  3. Equality of voice: amongst all Assembly members. Each member will be given an opportunity to voice their opinions, should they so wish;
  4. Efficiency: the Assembly will make best use of our limited time together and ensure that all documentation is circulated in advance so members can properly prepare for meetings;
  5. Respect: it is important that members can freely and confidently make contributions and express their views without fear of personal attacks or criticism; and
  6. Collegiality: we will work together in a spirit of friendship as together we embark on this task.