Some thoughts on the Citizens Assembly on the 8th Amendment

This afternoon Newstalk (an Irish radio station) asked me to write a short piece on the proposed Citizens Assembly, which the Taoiseach has announced will be convened next week to consider the 8th Amendment. My full column is available here, but in short I argue:

Little will be gained if the Citizens Assembly turns into a microcosm of the broader debate on abortion per se; if it is to be useful, rather than a mere stalling exercise, it seems clear that it should have a purpose that is oriented towards discussing in broad terms the options for reform.

The details of the proposed reform might then be discussed in an Oireachtas Committee, informed by the views of the Citizens Assembly, but in the design of the Citizens Assembly it seems important to remember this: It is the people, not the Assembly or the Oireachtas, that determines the content of the Irish Constitution.

Whatever option is put before the People should give voters a real choice between the current legal regime and one that is more permissive in a meaningful way. If it can figure out how to do this, the Citizens Assembly will be a useful forum indeed.

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