Citizens' Assembly on
Selection of Members
In accordance with the Government Decision and Oireachtas Resolutions on the establishment of the Citizens’ Assemblies, the latest round of Citizens’ Assemblies used a brand new approach to member recruitment. This new approach features important changes to eligibility criteria and to the recruitment methodology, informed by learnings from previous Citizens’ Assemblies and by international best practice.
For the first time, any adult who is resident in the State was eligible to become a member of the Citizens’ Assemblies. This included people who are not Irish citizens and others who are not enrolled on the electoral register. This has helped ensure that the membership is as broadly representative of Irish society as possible.
Also for the first time, the recruitment process was based on written invitations to randomly-selected households. This approach differed from the methodology used by previous assemblies, which relied on polling companies conducting door-to-door interviews to select members. This new methodology was designed to improve the geographic spread of members and to increase the quality and inclusivity of the random selection process.
To recruit members for the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss, 20,000 households around the country received a postal invitation to nominate one adult from that household to apply to become a member of the Assembly. Each county received an amount of invitations proportionate to its overall population. Households were selected randomly from the GeoDirectory database of households, which is the most comprehensive available database of households. Figure 1, below, shows the spread and concentration of invitations for the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss. Gaps in coverage correspond with low-density population areas with a high proportion of non-unique postal addresses.
Coverage of invitations for Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss
Innovation and continuous improvement
Citizens Assemblies are an important form of deliberative democracy. Ireland is widely regarded internationally as being a leader in deliberative democracy. The Secretariat to the Citizens Assemblies is committed to innovation and improving how we manage and operate the Assemblies.
These latest innovations in recruitment methodology are informed by the experience of previous Citizens’ Assemblies in Ireland, and by international best practice. In particular, the OECD Recommendation on Open Government (2017), the OECD Good Practice Principles for Deliberative Processes for Public Decision Making (2020) and other jurisdictions with extensive experience of Citizens’ Assemblies, including Canada and Australia.
In order to continue refining and improving the recruitment methodology for future Citizens’ Assemblies, the Secretariat will conduct a detailed review of the process, including a qualitative and statistical analysis of factors influencing the response rate.
 Chwalisz, C. (2020), “Good practice principles for deliberative processes for public decision making”, in Innovative Citizen Participation and New Democratic Institutions: Catching the Deliberative Wave, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/b40aab2a-en.