Seven Citizens’ Assembly members not randomly recruited
Individuals removed after recruiter used personal contacts to fill vacant positions
Chairwoman Mary Laffoy said she was satisfied the matter had no impact on the work of the assembly.
Seven members of the Citizens’ Assembly have been removed from the process after it emerged they were brought on board due to their personal connections to a recruiter rather than randomly selected.
The recruiter in question is currently suspended pending a full employment disciplinary process.
The assembly said in a statement on Wednesday the members in question had attended its meeting on the weekend of January 13th and 14th when it considered and voted on the manner in which referendums are held.
The individuals in question did not attend or take part in earlier assembly meetings.
The matter was brought to the attention of Citizens’ Assembly chairwoman Ms Justice Mary Laffoy, a retired judge, following a randomised check of the agreed recruitment methodology by the assembly secretariat.
The methodology for identifying potential members states that interviewers recruit participants by cold calling door-to-door to households in allocated geographic areas which were issued to them.
The issue was raised with RED C Research and Marketing, the firm responsible for the recruitment of members, which then conducted an “extensive audit”.
The audit discovered that the seven individuals were recruited in December 2017 and January 2018 to replace members who had withdrawn.
However, they had been contacted by phone 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.
Ms Laffoy said she was satisfied the matter had no impact on the work of the assembly on previous topics or on its final topic.
“I am obviously disappointed that the assembly finds itself in a position where these seven individuals have been recruited in a manner which is inconsistent with the agreed methodology,” she said.
“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.
“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.”
RED C Research and Marketing said it was satisfied this was an isolated incident.
“One recruiter, without permission, recruited seven replacement members outside of the strict methodology for recruitment agreed,” it said.
“All recruiters on this project were highly trained and experienced, and have passed regular quality assessments with no issues. All recruiters received unambiguous instruction on the agreed recruitment procedure.
“The irregular recruitment in question was conducted by one recruiter who has co-operated fully with our investigation and with whom no issues have previously arisen.
“RED C has apologised unreservedly to the Citizens’ Assembly, and the seven members affected for any impact that this irregular recruitment has had.”