Selection of Members
There were 99 citizen Members of the Assembly, in addition to the Chairperson. Members were chosen at random to represent the views of the people of Ireland, and were broadly representative of society as reflected in the Census, including age, gender, social class, regional spread etc. They must also have been on the electoral register to vote in a referendum.
Since the inaugural meeting on 15 October 2016, 53 Members have been replaced.
- 11 new Members were recruited between the October Inaugural meeting and the November 2016 meeting of the Assembly.
- A further 4 Members were recruited following the November 2016 meeting and before the January 2017 meeting.
- 9 new Members were recruited between the January 2017 and February 2017 meetings.
- 7 new Members were recruited after the April 2017 meeting.
- 6 new Members were recruited after the June 2017 meeting.
- 1 new Member was recruited after the July 2017 meeting.
- 2 new Member was recruited after the September 2017 meeting.
- 13 new Members were recruited after the November 2017 meeting.
Of these 53 who have been replaced, 20 were initially recruited and indicated a willingness to participate in the Assembly but never attended any meeting. 19 of these were replaced before the January 2018 meeting. One Member withdrew since the January 2018 meeting and has not been replaced.
Following the February 2017 meeting, a further 4 Members did withdraw from the process and were not replaced. A decision was taken by the Chair not to replace any Members who withdrew from the process following the February 2017 meeting. It was agreed that this was the most appropriate course of action given the amount and complexity of material already circulated and considered in detail on the issue of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution during the previous Assembly weekend meetings. It also took account of the fact that there were only two weekends left to consider and make recommendations on this topic.
For this reason, 95 Members were actually due to attend the April 2017 meeting of the Assembly.
Following the January 2018 meeting, the Chair was made aware that seven new Members who were present and voting at that weekend had been recruited in a manner which did not comply with the agreed methodology for recruitment of Assembly members. These Members will play no further part in the Citizens’ Assembly.
Most of those who have withdrawn have done so for personal reasons including illness, illness of a family member, change in employment or circumstances.
All Members substituted on to the Assembly have been recruited by REDC in accordance with the demographic quotas in the Census.
Click here for a list of current Members of the Assembly.
A list of all 152 individuals who have been Members of the Assembly since October 2016, including both past and present Members, is available here.
How were the citizen Members selected?
Following a public tendering process, REDC Research and Marketing Ltd. was engaged to select the 99 citizen Members and 99 substitutes for the Assembly.
The Members were initially recruited in September and October 2016, but additional recruitment was undertaken as the need for substitutes arose.
The recruitment was carried out by a team of highly professional recruiters from REDC Research and Marketing Ltd. across 15 broad regional areas throughout the country. The sampling points were selected on a random basis in accordance with Census 2011 data and QNHS population estimates to ensure that they were nationally representative in terms of geography. This did not mean, however, that each county was necessarily represented. The process used by REDC was designed to ensure that the Members are broadly representative of Irish society including the urban-rural divide.
The Members were chosen at random and are broadly representative of demographic variables as reflected in the Census. The quotas each interviewer had to reach in their allocated District Electoral Division (DED), were based on a number of demographic variables – gender, age, and social class.
The social class of respondents is graded on their own occupation. Occupations are then classified into different class groups, and interviewers have been trained to be able to ask further questions to ensure they are classifying people correctly. At a very basic level the following groups are identified.
Social Class – Basic Definitions
|Higher managerial/ professional/administrative (e.g. Established Doctor, Solicitor, Board Director in a large organisation 200+ employees, top level Civil/Public Service/Government employee)||A|
|Intermediate managerial/ professional/administrative (e.g. Newly qualified (under 3 years) Doctor, Solicitor/Lawyer, Board Director small organisation, Middle manager in large organisation, Principal Officer in civil service/local government)||B|
|Supervisory or clerical/junior managerial/professional/administrative (e.g. Office worker, Student Doctor/Med Student, Foreman with 25+ employees, Salesperson, Nurse, TEacher etc.) OR Student||C1|
|Skilled worker (e.g. Skilled Bricklayer, Carpenter, Plumber, Painter, Bus/Ambulance Driver, HGV driver, AA patrolman, Police, Firefighter, Chef, Barman etc.)||C2|
|Semi or unskilled work (e.g. Manual workers, all apprentices to be skilled trades, Caretaker, Park Keeper, non-HGV Driver, Shop Assistant)||D|
|Casual worker – not in permanent employment OR
Retired and living on state/Government pension OR
Unemployed or not working due to long-term sickness OR
Full-time carer of other household member
The social class allocation is also double checked by a follow up validation interview conducted by REDC staff when checking that each person has been recruited correctly. The national social class proportions in the population are agreed by AIMRO, the Association of Irish Market Research Organisation and are well recognised. These proportions are then used to set quotas for the Assembly membership.
On recruitment, Members were clearly informed that no personal information would be made public about them beyond their name and their general area. This information is available on the website.
It should be noted that direct applications from members of the public to take part in the Assembly were not accepted. Similarly, interviewers were not allowed to recruit friends or family together.
Prior to the commencement of the recruitment process for Members of the Citizens’ Assembly, it was decided that members of advocacy groups on the topics to be considered would be excluded from membership of the Assembly. The rationale for this decision was based on the fact that interest groups have been invited to make submissions on the matters concerning them.
In order to establish this information, during the recruitment process all potential Members were asked if they currently were, had been, or intended to act in an advocacy role for any interest or lobby group campaigning on any of the issues to be considered by the Assembly. This was asked of potential Members again during the follow up validation interview. Any potential Member who answered yes to any of these questions was excluded from the process.
Citizen Members who have previously expressed views on any of the issues before the Assembly were not, or will not be excluded from participating in the Assembly which, by the random nature of it’s make up, may include Members who have views on either side of a debate. However, the Chair of the Assembly has asked that Members refrain from publicly commenting on issues while they are being considered as a mark of respect to their fellow citizen Members and to protect the integrity of the Assembly process.
Further details on the methodology used to identify the Members is available here.
A booklet was prepared for potential Members to provide further advice on what is involved in being a Member and is available to view here.
The Honourable Mary Laffoy graduated from University College Dublin with a B.A. degree in 1968. Subsequently, between 1968 and 1971 she studied law at University College Dublin and at the Honorable Society of King’s Inns in Dublin. She was called to the Bar in July 1971.
She practised as a barrister from the Michaelmas term in 1971 until her appointment to the High Court. She was admitted to the Inner Bar in the Michaelmas term of 1987.
How was the Chairperson selected?
The Honourable Ms Mary Laffoy was appointed Chairperson of the Assembly by the Government on 27 July 2016.