Problems with the Citizens’ Assembly

 

A chara, – So, the Citizens’ Assembly is now telling us what we should be doing regarding retirement age (News, July 10th). Remind me, who elected these people? Who can I contact to discuss my own concerns? Will any of the members of this assembly be challenged on their opinions by anyone? – Is mise,

ALEX STAVELEY,

Donabate,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – Whatever the benefits of the Citizens’ Assembly, I respectfully suggest its legitimacy should be questioned, if not challenged.

In particular, on a number of weighty issues critical to all society, the Citizens’ Assembly has effectively been handed a disproportionately powerful voice. However balanced the expert advice it receives, and however random the selection of those particular citizens, it is nevertheless surely the case that the nature and content of that advice can never be sufficient.

In addition, a choice of 100 people, broken into smaller groups, is not a sufficient number of people to reflect adequately the actual views of all of society from a statistically sound standpoint.

Overall, this is a severely compromised exercise in “democracy”, and surely not the way democracy should be executed.

The technical shortcomings of the exercise notwithstanding, there is also another aspect to this – the exclusion of the rest of society from the exercise.

I, and others I’ve talked to, simply feel excluded from vital decisions and outcomes that are already having impact across the media and in Government circles.

Hence it is likely that this assembly will engender a sense of disconnectedness in large swathes of society, devaluing long-standing democratic processes, including the value of the vote.

I argue that this assembly should be discontinued, and that the Government gets back to exercising democracy in normal, non-exclusive and non-selective modes by ensuring that all citizens get the chance to have their say through their vote. – Yours, etc,

KEVIN NOLAN,

Rathfarnham,

Dublin 16.