Citizen Assembly meets this weekend

11 members have already stepped down

Citizen Assembly meets this weekend

Image: PA PA Wire/PA Images

The Citizens Assembly will meet for the first time this weekend to discuss the issue of the Eighth Amendment.

Over 600 submissions were made to the assembly on the issue of the Eighth including one from the standing committee of the Church of Ireland.

Eleven of the 99 ordinary members of the Citizens' Assembly have stepped down from the body over the past month, mostly for personal reasons.

The body's secretariat says they have been replaced by substitutes drawn from a panel of 99 which was chosen along with the full members in the lead-up to the assembly's first meeting last month.

Other topics the assembly will cover over the year include the ageing population, fixed term parliaments, referendums and climate change.

In relation to abortion, a spokesperson for the assembly's secretariat said it would vote next spring on what should be done about the Eighth Amendment, which says that, as far as practicable, the law will give equal protection to life of a mother and her unborn child.

Last month, Taoiseach Enda Kenny praised members at their inaugural meeting for agreeing to "put their heads above the parapet" by agreeing to participate.

Other politicians have criticised the assembly's work, with one Socialist Party TD describing it as a 'charade'.

Minister Leo Varadkar has defended the Citizen's Assembly, citing it as the starting point for the marriage equality referendum.