2013-2014 – Convention on the Constitution

2013-2014 – Convention on the Constitution

Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly model today follows the model first used for the Convention on the Constitution, which ran from 2013 to 2014.

The Convention on the Constitution was approved by Resolution of both Houses of the Oireachtas in July 2012. The Convention’s membership comprised 66 randomly-selected citizens, 33 politicians from both Houses of the Oireachtas and the Northern Ireland Assembly and an independent chair.

The Resolution set out eight specific topics that the Convention was asked to consider and report on to the Oireachtas. The Convention also examined two matters which it selected for itself.

Government responded in the Dáil to all nine of the Convention’s Reports, as follows:

  • to the First Report, on Reducing the Voting Age and the Presidential Term, on 18 July 2013,
  • to the Second Report, on the Role of Women and Women in Politics, on 10 October 2013,
  • to the Third Report, on Same Sex Marriage, on 17 December 2013,
  • to the Fourth Report, on Electoral Reform, on 18 December 2014,
  • to the Sixth Report, on Blasphemy, on 2 October 2014, and
  • to the Fifth, Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Reports, on amending the Constitution to give citizens resident outside the State the right to vote in Presidential elections; Dáil Reform; Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and; Conclusions and Final Recommendations, respectively, on 14 January 2016.

In responding to the Convention’s Reports, the Government accepted six recommendations for Constitutional change: on marriage equality, reducing the voting age to 16, reducing the age threshold for candidacy for Presidential elections, removing the offence of blasphemy from the Constitution, enhancing the reference in the Constitution to the office of Ceann Comhairle to give it more status, and including a reference to Oireachtas Committees in the Constitution.

Referendums were held on two of these issues in May 2015, on reducing the age threshold for candidacy in Presidential elections and on marriage equality. The marriage equality referendum passed by a majority of 62.1%.