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Key Principles, Rules & Procedures

  1. Key Principles

The Assembly will base its work on the following six key principles:

Openness: The Citizens’ Assembly will operate with transparency. All plenary meetings will be broadcast live at www.citizensassembly.ie and all documentation will be freely available.

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;

Equality of voice: Amongst all Assembly members, each member will be given an opportunity to voice their opinions, should they so wish;

Efficiency: The Assembly will make best use of our limited time together so as to cover all the topics. We will ensure that all documentation is circulated in advance so members can properly prepare for meetings;

Respect: It is important that members can freely and confidently make contributions and express their views without fear of personal attacks or criticism; and

Collegiality: We will work together in a spirit of friendship.

  1. Timing and Frequency of Meetings

Meetings of the Assembly will generally take place in a hotel over 5 weekends during 2020. Full details of the proposed dates for these Meetings have been supplied to members and will be available on www.citizensassembly.ie.

  1. Attendance of Meetings

It is very important that Members are available to attend all weekends to ensure all citizens have the same information and can participate in the discussions which will influence the final conclusions of the Assembly.  Because of this, a Member who misses more than one weekend meeting will have to leave the process.

  1. Use of mobile devices

While the Assembly is in session, members agree not to use mobile devices.

  1. Transparency of Meetings

Members of the public will not have access to the meetings but the plenary sessions will be streamed live at www.citizensassembly.ie. Table discussions will not be live streamed.

  1. Press and Communications & members interaction with the Media

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. Members of the media will not have access to private sessions of the Assembly.

As a general principle, the Chairperson shall act as spokesperson in relation to administrative or procedural matters.

Unless requested by or agreed with the Chairperson, members shall refrain from media interviews or public commentary while the Assembly is actively considering a topic. This shall also apply in respect of social media sites.

  1. 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 2019. She shall engage such support services as are necessary for the effective administration of the Assembly and, from time to time, make such recommendations to the Assembly on the management of business as she sees fit.

  1. Work Programme

The work programme shall be agreed by the Assembly on foot of a proposal by the Chairperson.  The Work Programme will be based on the topics specified in the Oireachtas resolution establishing the Assembly.

The programme shall be reviewed regularly but any subsequent changes shall only take effect with the agreement of the Assembly.

  1. 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, the Secretariat and some Members.

  1. 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.

  1. 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 this to their Facilitator who will inform the Chairperson. 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 for factual information if required and deliberate with one another.

  1. Tabling and Circulation of Papers

All documents for Assembly meetings shall be made available to all Members of the Assembly via e-mail. Alternative arrangements will be made for those Members who are not in a position to receive e-mail.

  1. Voting

Votes, if required, shall be by secret ballot of the Members present.  Votes shall be overseen by the Chairperson with the support of at least 2 Members of the Assembly. The Chairperson will only vote in the event of a tied vote.

  1. Expert Advisory Group

As provided for in the Oireachtas Resolution, the Chair has established an Expert Advisory Group from relevant disciplines and fields to assist with its work in terms of preparing information and advice. The composition and focus of the Expert Advisory Group may change during the lifetime of the Assembly.

  1. Irish language facilities

A simultaneous translation service from English to Irish will be available for all plenary sessions as required.

  1. 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.  

  1. Observers

It is recognised that certain organisations/ individuals such as advocacy groups, NGOS, academics political parties and Social Partners may have a legitimate interest in being present at the meetings to observe proceedings first hand.

However, there is limited space for observers. Attendance will be for plenary sessions only and will be subject to an application process governed by the Secretariat.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Early warning

Members are encourage to signal any concerns or difficulties to the Secretariat as early as possible so they can be resolved quickly.