Views from inside Participants' opinions

Mon, Jan 28, 2013, 00:00

Prof David Farrell, academic consultant to convention

“There was strong feedback from members that they had sufficient information to make their decisions . . . There were fears [about politicians being involved] but I did not agree with the fears. There were advantages to having politicians in the room. They were, on the whole, doing their best not to dominate.”

Tom Arnold, chairman

“I think the process we went through worked very well. There was very good engagement from both the citizens and the politicians. We ended up having good presentations. I think people went into the discussions on a well-informed basis.”

Richard Codd, retired schoolteacher, Tullow, Co Carlow

“I probably have not changed my mind a huge amount . . . The combination of citizens and politicians at the table was very informative. We were encouraged to participate. The facilitators were well-trained. This weekend was a preparatory exercise for the [more complex] issues ahead.”

Gerard Farrell, unemployed, Drogheda, Co Louth

“It was very interesting. I didn’t think the issues would be as contentious as they were. I did not think there would be as many strong views on reducing the voting age. You can change your mind very easily if you hear arguments. You don’t come with a closed mind.”

Megan Moynihan, student, Macroom, Co Cork

“I think the convention is very representative of the general public. There are four or five under 21. I think the voting age should stay at 18 and they concentrate on getting the 18-24 age group out to vote.”

Tom Hayes, Fine Gael TD, Tipperary South

“I’m afraid politicians were dominating in the beginning and, mindful of the fact that it’s the citizens who make decisions, they stood back. The round-table discussions were great, not inhibited and you got the nitty-gritty.”

Kathryn Reilly, Sinn Féin Senator, Cavan

“The most useful part part was the discussion groups around the table. It was the different viewpoints across the tables that made it so interesting.”

Jillian van Turnhout, Independent Senator, Dublin

“This weekend has encouraged the citizens to be more engaged. People were able to have opposite opinions but there was no tension. It is a citizens’ convention and we should allow citizens drive it.”