7 January 2017

2016 – 2018 Citizens’ Assembly 

7 January 2017

The Citizens’ Assembly had its second meeting to consider the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution on 7- 8 January 2017.

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

Saturday’s Proceedings

The Chair’s opening speech on Saturday morning is available to view here.

Session 1- Foetal Abnormalities- Medical Issues

Dr Peter McParland is the Director of Fetal Maternal Medicine at the National Maternity Hospital, Dublin and Associate Clinical Professor at UCD.  He is a Consultant Obstetrician for over twenty years.  He commenced his Obstetric training in Ireland and has worked abroad in Bristol, London and Toronto for over seven years.  His subspecialty interest is in that of Maternal Fetal Medicine (high risk pregnancy).

Dr McParland’s delivery of his paper on “Antenatal Diagnosis and Management of Fetal Abnormalities” was accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Dr McParland’s presentation to the Assembly can also be watched back here.

Dr Adrienne Foran’s special areas of interest are new-born intensive care, neonatal neurology, brain monitoring, MRI imaging and care of the extremely preterm. She graduated from Trinity College in 1996. Following Basic Paediatric training (BST) she entered onto the Specialist paediatric training with the Royal College of Physicians in 1999, being awarded her CCST in 2006. She completed her post-doctoral thesis (MD) in brainwave tracing of babies at risk of brain injury at The National Maternity Hospital Dublin between 2001-2003, being awarded same in 2005. Dr Foran tutored for the RCSI at The Children’s University Hospital Temple Street before completing her specialist registrar training at The Imperial College, Hammersmith London where she worked for a year as a consultant neonatologist and Honorary Senior Lecturer. In September 2007 she took a permanent neonatal consultant post at the Rotunda and Children’s University Hospitals. She is also an Honorary Senior Lecturer with RCSI and has been the Clinical Director at The Children’s University Hospital Temple Street since October 2015. Dr Foran is married with 3 children.

Dr Foran’s delivery of her paper on a neonatologist’s perspective of babies born with severe fetal anomalies was accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Appendix One, referred to in Dr Foran’s paper, can be accessed here. Dr Foran’s presentation to the Assembly is available to watch back here.

Session 2- Legal Issues

Eileen Barrington is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, the Kings Inns and the College of Europe, Bruges. Eileen commenced practice in 1994 and was called to the Inner Bar in 2011.  She practices mainly in the areas of administrative, commercial and regulatory law.

She has appeared as one of the counsel for the State in the case of D v. Ireland and A, B and C v. Ireland  and in Mellet v. Ireland.

Ms Barrington’s delivery of her paper on “Article 40.3.3° of the Constitution and Fatal Foetal Abnormalities” was accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Ms Barrington’s presentation to the Assembly can be watched back here.

Dr Noelle Higgins is a Senior Lecturer and the Director of Postgraduate Studies at Maynooth University Department of Law.  She has masters degrees in both Law and Irish and a Higher Diploma in Education. She undertook her PhD research at the Irish Centre for Human Rights in NUI Galway.  She previously held lecturing positions at the Irish Centre for Human Rights and the School of Law and Government, Dublin City University.  She is currently Vice-Chair of the Ethical, Political, Legal and Philosophical Studies Committee of the Royal Irish Academy, and was previously a visiting fellow at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law and a member of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade / NGO Human Rights Committee. She has published widely in the field of international law, in particular in the area of human rights law and is co-author of Principles of Irish Human Rights Law (Carus Press, 2012).

Dr Higgins’ delivery of her paper on “International Human Rights Law and Fatal Foetal Abnormalities” was accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Dr Higgins’ presentation to the Assembly can be watched back here.

Ethical Perspectives- the Moral Status of the Unborn/ Foetus

Dr Helen Watt is Senior Research Fellow and former Director of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, Oxford, United Kingdom.  She is the author of The Ethics of Pregnancy, Abortion and Childbirth:  Exploring Moral Choices in Childbearing (Routledge, 2016) and of Life and Death in Healthcare Ethics: A Short Introduction (Routledge, 2000).  She has published articles on a range of topics in journals including Clinical Ethics and the Journal of Medical Ethics, and has edited books in the areas of reproductive ethics, mental incapacity, and complicity and conscience.

Dr Watt’s delivery of her paper on “The Moral Status of the Foetus” to the Assembly can be watched back here.

Bobbie Farsides is Professor of Clinical and Biomedical Ethics at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. She previously held posts at Keele University and King’s College London. She has a long standing research interest in the experience of health care professionals and medical scientists working in ethically contested fields of biomedicine. Bobbie also has an interest in the place of ethics in public policy debate and she has served on a number of public bodies. She is currently a board member of BPAS and a member of the HFEA.

Professor Farsides delivery of her paper on the “The Moral Status of the Fetus: the pro-choice approach” was accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Professor Farsides presentation can be watched back here.

Sunday’s Proceedings

How laws are made and changed

Dr David Kenny holds degrees from Trinity College Dublin, Harvard Law School and the Honourable Society of the King’s Inns. He is an Assistant Professor of Law at Trinity College Dublin, where his teaching and research focusses on Irish and comparative constitutional law. He is a co-author of the forthcoming 5th edition of JM Kelly: the Irish Constitution, the leading text on Irish constitutional law.

Dr Kenny’s delivery of his paper on “The Constitution and Legislation: the making and changing of laws” was accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Dr Kenny’s presentation to the Assembly can be watched back here.

Following Dr Kenny’s presentation the Members completed an exercise in constitutional design to reinforce their understanding of what they had heard. A paper prepared by the Expert Advisory Group for this is available to view here.

The Chair’s closing remarks at the end of the weekend are available here.

Assembly Business

In private session, the Assembly Members voted to have an additional weekend considering the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.

A decision was also taken by Members to consider climate change earlier than originally intended. How the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change will now be the third topic the Assembly will consider.


Over the course of the weekend the Members engaged in roundtable discussions, with the assistance of facilitators at each table. Further details on the facilitation process are available here.

Each table was provided with the same Conversation Starters for each session.

During the course of the weekend, the Members completed an individual reflective exercise based on the material from the constitutional design exercise mentioned above. The exercise they completed is available to view here.


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