The Irish Citizens’ Assembly was established in 2016 to examine five issues and make recommendations to the Houses of the Oireachtas (the Legislature of Ireland) for further debate by elected representatives. The Assembly is made up of a chair and 99 randomly selected citizens who are broadly representative of the Irish electorate.
One of the five issues the Assembly was asked to examine was the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution which, passed in 1983, made abortion illegal in Ireland. After six months of deliberation on the Amendment, the Assembly recommended abortions should be provided in a range of circumstances.
An all-party parliamentary committee charged with considering the work of the citizens’ assembly subsequently recommended legal abortion without restriction up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. This would first require an amendment to the Constitution, which are only possible by way of referendum.
On May 25, 2018, Irish citizens voted to approve the removal of Article 40.3.3 from the Irish Constitution, which prohibits abortion in Ireland. This ‘Yes’ vote allows the Oireachtas to pass laws regulating the termination of pregnancy. Following the referendum, the Irish government will bring legislation before the Dáil (the lower house of the Oireachtas) which will allow abortion on request up to the 12th week of pregnancy.
Learn more about the Citizens’ Assembly and their role in the referendum below:
‘When I heard the result I thought, Wow, I’m partially responsible for this’ via the Irish Times
How 99 strangers in a Dublin hotel broke Ireland's abortion deadlock via The Guardian
The Citizens’ Assembly – a canny move on the road to repeal via the Irish Times
If only Brexit had been run like Ireland’s referendum via The Guardian