Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q1. What is a Citizens' Assembly?

A Citizens’ Assembly is a group made up of members of the general public, who have been selected to deliberate on an issue or issues of national importance. A Citizens’ Assembly is established by resolution of the Oireachtas (Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann).

The Assembly is made up of people who have been randomly selected and are broadly representative of Irish society. This allows a cross-section of the public to consider expert evidence, hear from people working in the area, examine submissions from interested parties and engage in rational, reasoned debate on complex issues. Arising from this debate, the Assembly will agree on recommendations to be presented to the Government and the Oireachtas. A Citizens’ Assembly typically consists of 100 people, comprising of an independent Chairperson and 99 members of the public, chosen at random.

Q2. Why did I receive an invitation from the Citizens' Assembly?

The Citizens’ Assembly has now selected the members for the Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs Use. Invitation letters were sent to 20,000 randomly selected addresses across Ireland. If you received an invitation, your address was one of those randomly-selected households from An Post’s GeoDirectory database.

If you were one of the 20,000 households to receive an invitation letter to join the Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs Use, the registration of interest stage has now closed and the Assembly is underway.

Q3. I didn't get an invitation letter, how do I become a member?

You cannot become a member of the Citizens’ Assembly unless you live at one of the 20,000 randomly selected addresses across Ireland. Of those 20,000 who receive an invitation, invitees are then asked to register their interest should they wish to participate. From these applications, 99 members are selected based on key demographic information including gender, age, geography, and socio-economic factors. This ensures that the members of the Assembly are broadly representative of wider society.

You can participate in the Assembly by making a submission to be considered by the members as part of their deliberations. Submissions were open for 8 weeks and are now closed. Submissions are an important part of the deliberative democratic process as they provide an opportunity for the general public, experts in the field, and those with personal experiences to share their views and have their voices included in the discussion.

Q4. Who is eligible to take part in a Citizens’ Assembly?

With the exception of certain excluded groups (including elected politicians and registered lobbyists), any member of the public aged 18 years and over, who is normally resident in Ireland, is potentially eligible to take part in a Citizens’ Assembly. However, only people living in households that receive an invitation letter can apply to join the Citizens’ Assembly.

Q5. I am not an Irish citizen - can I still reply to the invitation?

Yes. If you have received an invitation addressed to your household and are over the age of 18, you are eligible to register your interest. You do not need to be an Irish citizen to take part in the upcoming Citizens’ Assembly.

Q6. Can I give my invitation to someone else?

The invitation is specific to your address and is open to anyone in your household over the age of 18. Only one person in your household can register their interest to be considered for the selection process. This invitation is not transferable to another address or household.

Q7. If I register my interest, will I automatically become a member of the Assembly?

No, not necessarily. Registering is just the first step in the selection process, where people register their interest to participate in the Citizens’ Assembly. The next phase of the recruitment process is the random selection of members of the general public who will be broadly representative of wider society in terms of demographics, e.g. age, sex, geographical location and socio-economic group.

Q8. What will be expected of me if I am selected to be a member?

Members of the Assembly are asked to spend several weekends (all day Saturday, and Sunday mornings) from April until the end of the year discussing the relevant issues, listening to national and international experts and representative groups, as well as hearing from those with lived experiences.

You will have the opportunity to discuss, question, and share views with fellow members in order to reach informed and consensus-style recommendations for the Oireachtas.

Q9. When does the Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs Use begin and end?

The inaugural meeting of the Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs Use commenced on the weekend of 15-16 April and is likely to conclude its work by the end of the year.

Q10. Will I have to attend all meetings of the Citizens’ Assembly?

Yes. Members are expected to attend all meetings of the Assembly which will take place between April and the end of the year.

Q11. Do I need to have knowledge of the topic to take part?

You do not need any specialised knowledge to take part. Members of the Assembly will be presented with the facts to allow for informed exchanges of views. Everyone will bring their own perspective and experience to the discussions.

Q12. Will I be paid for participating?

Members of the Assembly will receive a gift voucher to the value of €500 at the conclusion of the Assembly, in recognition of their civic contribution.
Accommodation and meals will be provided, as well as out-of-pocket travel expenses.

Q13. I have a disability. Will I be accommodated?

Yes. We are committed to including all members of society in the Citizens’ Assembly and will do our best to accommodate you if you have any particular needs. If you do have any questions about how you can access or participate in the Citizens’ Assembly, please contact us on (01) 619 4111.

Q14. What are the Terms of Reference for the Citizens' Assembly on Drugs Use?

The Terms of Reference are a set of guidelines agreed by the Government and the Oireachtas before the Citizens’ Assembly commences. They provide a framework that defines the programme of work for the Citizens’ Assembly.

Q15. How are members being selected for the Citizens' Assembly on Drugs Use?

A stratified random selection process is used to select 99 members of the general public. Any adult who is resident in the State is eligible to become a member of the Citizens’ Assembly. This includes people who are not Irish citizens and others who are not enrolled on the electoral register. This helps ensure that the membership is as broadly representative of Irish society as possible.

The first step in the recruitment process is a mailing campaign with 20,000 randomly selected households invited to apply to participate in the Assembly. Each household that receives an invitation is entitled to nominate one adult for selection at the next stage.

From these nominations, the 99 members are selected on the basis of the demographics of the country, in accordance with the most recent census data on gender, age, geography, and socio-economic factors. This ensures that the members of the Assembly are broadly representative of wider society. Read more about the selection of members for the Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs Use

Q16. Why do you use this selection approach?

This recruitment approach was introduced for the 2022 Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss and the 2022 Dublin Assembly in order to improve the geographic spread of members. This methodology increases the quality and inclusivity of the random selection process.

The results from last year show that the demographic profile of the Citizens’ Assemblies in 2022 almost exactly matched the profile of wider Irish society in terms of gender, age, geography and socio-economic status.

Q17. How can I or my organisation get involved?

You or your organisation can get involved in the Citizens’ Assembly by sending in a written, audio or video submission for consideration by the members of the Assembly. The submission process was open for 8 weeks but is now closed. The Citizens’ Assembly will have a detailed discussion on the submissions received.

Q18. I have lived experience of drug use, how can I have my voice included?

You can contribute your voice to the Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs Use by sending in a written or video submission for consideration by the members of the Assembly. A public consultation process was open for 8 weeks but is now closed.

Q19. How can I share my views with the Assembly?

Submissions are an important part of the deliberative democratic process as they provide an opportunity for the general public, experts in the field, and those with personal experiences to share their views and have their voice included in the discussion. Read information on how to make a submission to the Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs Use.

Q20. How can I follow proceedings of the Citizens' Assembly on Drugs Use?

All Citizens’ Assembly meetings are live-streamed to ensure full transparency and allow the general public to follow the work of the Assembly and the discussions taking place. You can find all videos from Assemblies past and present on the Citizens’ Assembly YouTube channel and on the Citizens’ Assembly website.

Q21. How can we ensure that membership includes people from communities affected by drugs use?

The demographic profile of the Citizens’ Assembly will correspond very closely with Irish society more generally. This should help ensure that the spectrum of opinion, and lived experience of drugs use among the members broadly mirrors that of the wider population. However, additional measures will be taken to ensure that the voice and perspective of vulnerable and marginalised groups is represented through the design of the programme and choice of speakers.

Q22. Who is the Chairperson?

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar T.D. has appointed Mr. Paul Reid as the independent Chairperson of the Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs Use.

Q23. Can children and young people participate in the Citizens’ Assembly?

In Ireland, membership of citizens’ assemblies is restricted to those over the age of 18. While under 18s are precluded from membership, it is important that young people’s perspectives are factored into the deliberations of Citizens’ Assemblies in a meaningful way.

A consultation has been established with young people through Comhairle na nÓg and youth drug projects in disadvantaged areas, which will be presented to the Citizens’ Assembly for its consideration.

Q24. How are Citizens' Assemblies used in Ireland?

The Citizens’ Assembly is an exercise in deliberative democracy, giving voice to citizens and placing them at the heart of important legal and policy issues facing Irish society. The Citizens’ Assembly has become an important feature of the democratic process in Ireland, enabling citizens to have a say on important issues, which has resulted in significant constitutional and social change over the last decade. Read more about previous citizens’ assemblies in Ireland.