Citizens’ Assembly members warn politicians over ‘delaying tactic’

Members who voted in favour of more liberal abortion regime want issue put to a vote

Members of the Citizens' Assembly have called for better sex education in schools and for more support for pregnant women in Ireland.

The report of Ms Justice Mary Laffoy into the outcome of the assembly on abortion contained a series of recommendations agreed by the members by consensus.

The citizens made five recommendations.

They called for better family planning services, better scanning and testing for all Irishwomen irrespective of location and also that consideration should be given to who should fund abortion services if they were introduced into Ireland.


Members of the assembly have also called on politicians to act on its recommendations on the issue of the Eighth Amendment and abortion.

In feedback given at the end of its deliberations, a large number of members said that, having set up the assembly, it was incumbent on politicians to heed its recommendations.

One suggested that the Oireachas Committee set up to deal with the issue should not "adopt any more deferring or delaying tactics".

Another said the greatest concern of the assembly members was “political inaction”.

The assembly consisted of 99 randomly chosen citizens of whom 92 voted in a secret ballot on the final day of deliberations.

Of the 92 members who voted on the last day of the assembly, 72 provided feedback to the secretariat afterwards and it has been published as part of the final report.

Acted upon

There was a strong theme through their reflections that it would be a waste of the assembly members’ time if their recommendations were not acted upon.

Among the comments left by citizens included "I think the country deserves this to be resolved" and that the "Houses of the Oireachtas will take our recommendations seriously and not just pay lip service to us".

Another stated the assembly members were the most well informed group on all aspects of abortion and the Oireachtas committee should take on board their recommendations.

One citizen urged the Oireachtas to “act in a democratic manner and hold a straight referendum on retain, repeal or amend before wasting time and money on the partial change in order to avoid further revisiting ”.

Another said the committee should read all documentation and watch all presentations “to ensure they are as informed as the members are. Test them! We don’t trust them.”

On a similar theme, one stated: “The assembly put great time and effort into coming to the recommendations to the Oireachtas. I hope they carry out our wishes in whatever other proposals they put to the country in the referendum.”

Assembly chair Ms Justice Mary Laffoy thanked the members, who met over five weekends, for their deliberations.

She said their conclusions had been based on an “evidence-based approach” to the emotive subject of abortion.

“The history of the debates on this issue demonstrates that the approach has not usually been adopted in the past,” she said.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times