26-27 November 2016

2016 – 2018 Citizens’ Assembly 

The Citizens’ Assembly met on Saturday and Sunday, 26-27 November 2016.

The first topic the Assembly considered was the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, as outlined in the Resolution approving its establishment.

Agenda for the first meeting of the Citizens’ Assembly on the Eighth Amendment

Saturday’s Proceedings

The Chair’s opening speech to the Assembly is available here.

The following speakers presented to the Assembly at its first meeting considering the Eighth Amendment:

Dr Eoin Carolan (UCD) – “Art 40.3.3° and the law on abortion: a history

Eoin Carolan is an Associate Professor in law and director of the Constitutional Studies Group at University College Dublin.

Dr Carolan’s delivery of his paper on “Art 40.3.3° and the law on abortion: a history” was accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Dr Carolan’s presentation to the Assembly can also be watched back here.

The following papers were prepared by the Expert Advisory Group to supplement Dr Carolan’s paper on the law:

1. Article 40 of the Constitution (taken from Bunreacht na hÉireann October 2015 Edition)

2. Outline Chronology of the Evolution of the Law since the Eighth Amendment

3. Current law on Article 40.3.3°

Current Practice in Ireland – Session 1

Prof John Higgins (CUMH) – Paper on the Operation of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013

Professor John R. Higgins is the Professor of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at University College Cork. He is a practicing Obstetrician & Gynaecologist at Cork University Maternity Hospital. He is the current Head of the College of Medicine & Health at UCC. He commenced his obstetric training in Ireland – all his higher specialist training was completed in Australia. John’s subspecialty clinical and research interests are in the area of Maternal Fetal Medicine (High Risk Pregnancy).

Professor Higgins’ delivery of his paper on dealing with the operation of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 was accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Professor Higgins’ presentation to the Assembly can also be watched back here.

Prof Anthony McCarthy (NMH and St. Vincent’s Hospital) – Paper on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013

Professor Anthony McCarthy is a Consultant Psychiatrist National Maternity Hospital Holles Street Dublin 2 and Clinical Director, Department of Psychiatry, St Vincent’s University Hospital Elm Park Dublin 4. He was formerly Consultant Psychiatrist and Clinical Director, Department of Adult Psychiatry, Guys Hospital London., UK. He was formerly President of the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland. He is an expert Psychiatric Assessor for MBRRACE, the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths in The UK and Ireland.

Professor McCarthy’s delivery of his paper on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 is available to watch back here.

Current Practice in Ireland – Session 2

Janice Donlon (HSE Sexual Health & Crisis Pregnancy Programme) – Briefing Document 

Janice Donlon is Funding Officer with the Crisis Pregnancy Programme. She has a background in General Nursing, graduating with a Diploma in Nursing Studies in 2000 and achieving a BSc in Nursing Studies in 2002. During her nursing career she worked across a number of Dublin hospitals and also worked in Scotland and Australia. She left clinical nursing to work in healthcare administration in 2006 and joined the HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme as Funding Officer in 2013.
In her current role she manages the funding agreements with all non-statutory organisations within the Programme. She has also recently supported the development and implementation of a Self Assessment Quality Framework for all state funded Crisis Pregnancy Counselling Services. Janice is currently in her 2nd year of an MA in Healthcare Management.

Ms Donlon’s delivery of her briefing document was accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Ms Donlon’s presentation to the Assembly can also be watched back here.

Dr. Brendan O’Shea (Irish Council of General Practitioners) – “Experiences of Irish GPs supporting women with Crisis Pregnancy in Ireland, in the context of the 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution

Dr Brendan O’Shea MD FRCGP MICGP is a Family Doctor / General Practitioner. He is presently Director (Postgraduate Resource Centre) ICGP, a GP in Co Kildare, and Medical Director at K Doc. In addition, he is Assistant Adjuvant Professor at The Department of Public Health and Primary Care at Trinity College Dublin, where he lectures on Chronic Disease Management, Childhood Overweight and End of Life Planning.

Dr O’Shea’s delivery of the paper on on the “Experiences of Irish GPs supporting women with Crisis Pregnancy in Ireland, in the context of the 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution“, on behalf of the Irish College of General Practitioners, can also be watched back here.

Sunday’s Proceedings

Ethics – An Overview

Dr Mark Sheehan (Oxford University) – “Thinking about Ethics

Mark Sheehan is the Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) Ethics Fellow and Director of the Oxford BRC Ethics group within the Ethox Centre in the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford. He is also a Research Fellow at the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics in the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford.

He is a National Research Ethics Advisor for the National Research Ethics Service, a member of NICE’s Highly Specialised Technology Evaluation Committee, co-leader of the Ethical Analysis of Key Concepts GECiP sub-domain in the context of the 100K Genome Project and was recently a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics Working Group on research in children. He is also a member of the Ethics Committee of the Royal College of General Practitioners and the Thames Valley Priorities Committee in the NHS. He is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics. Finally, he is Dean and Senior Research Fellow in Philosophy at St. Benet’s Hall, University of Oxford.

Dr Sheehan’s delivery of his paper on “Thinking about Ethics” was accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Dr Sheehan’s presentation to the Assembly can also be watched back here.



Over the course of the weekend the citizens engaged in roundtable discussions, with the assistance of facilitators at each table.

Each table was provided with the same conversation starters for each session.

Member Brainstorming on the Work Programme for Remaining Weekends the Assembly Considers the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution

Following the brainstorming session on the work programme for the remaining weekends, a composite feedback document was prepared and is available to view here.


A list of Members at the first meeting on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution is available here.