Cabinet approves plans for a Citizens' Assembly on abortion

The 100-member group will be given a year to complete its work

Citizens Convention, Cabinet, 8th Amendment, chairperson, fixed-term parliaments

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The Cabinet has approved plans for a Citizens' Assembly on abortion and other issues.

The 100-member group will hold its first meeting before November, and be given 12 months to complete its work.

However, it is understood the assembly will be allowed to complete its work in modules, with the 8th Amendment the first issue on its agenda.

Other issues, such as the prospect of fixed-term parliaments, will also be discussed.

It is believed no decision has yet been made on who should serve as its chair.

The membership of a Citizens' Assembly is randomly selected.

It involves discussion with a cross-section of the population, and uses various methods - such as questioning experts directly.

Similar assemblies have been used in Canada and the Netherlands.

Independent Senator Rónán Mullen last week criticised the proposal to establish the assembly.

Hosting an annual fundraiser for the Pro-Life Campaign, Senator Mullen said that putting such an issue before a Citizens’ Assembly "was a way of pretending that there was some kind of public demand for changes to Ireland’s abortion laws."

"The only substantial demand for such a change was among small interest groups with influential friends in media and Government," he claimed.