The Citizens’ Assembly
Sir, – Members of the Oireachtas must respond constructively to the Citizens’ Assembly. It will no longer be allowable for them to follow the well-trodden path of sullen avoidance of the issue, particularly by members of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, hiding behind the excuse that the “silent majority” in Ireland has no interest in expanding women’s reproductive rights. The Dáil must begin by voting quickly for a referendum on the Eighth Amendment. Middle Ireland has spoken, and it has said clearly “legislate now!” – Yours, etc,
Sir, – We asked 100 randomly selected members of the public to decide the reproductive rights of women in the future. It’s good to see the country is being governed based on a giant game of Family Fortunes. – Yours, etc,
A chara, – One thing was clear from the start of the Citizens’ Assembly. Those who agreed with the recommendations it makes on various issues, most contentiously abortion, were always going to point to the diligent, conscientious and considered way in which the members went about their work. How they listened intently to the numerous submissions and asked highly intelligent and pertinent questions.
Those who disagreed were always going to say that it was no more meaningful an exercise than picking a random wedding reception and asking the guests to consider a complex area of social policy.
On that basis, it would be foolhardy to allow the outcome have any significant influence on policy, and irresponsible with regards to constitutional change.
Both are, of course, valid observations. However, the latter has far greater weight than the former. Your columnist Una Mullally suggests that the Oireachtas has now been given a “mandate” (“Oireachtas must act urgently on abortion mandate”, Opinion & Analysis, April 24th), while Ms Justice Laffoy said it was a “clear map” for politicians. This is not how complex policy decisions are made in a healthy, functioning democracy. Our politicians need to show courage on controversial issues, and not run and hide behind the equivalent of a grand jury every time the going gets tough.
The very least that the electorate deserve is that such a cynical exercise in political expediency is not repeated. – Is mise,