Citizens' Assembly vote to give explicit power to the Oireachtas

In the third ballot, the options will be letting the Oireachtas legislate or a new constitutional restriction on abortion

Updated at 18:22

The Citizen's Assembly has voted to replace the 8th amendment with a provision giving explicit power to the Oireachtas to legislate for abortion, the rights of the unborn and the rights of the pregnant woman. 

They voted by a margin of 51 to 38 in the third and final ballot of the day. The final ballot will take place tommorow. 

Speaking about today's vote, Justice Laffoy said "Today 57%  of the members of the Citizens’ Assembly voted to replace Article 40.3.3 with a constitutional provision that would grant the Oireachtas the exclusive power to make laws on the termination of pregnancy and any rights of the unborn. 

"In other words, it would be a matter for the Oireachtas to decide how to regulate these issues." 

She finished by saying "Tomorrow’s draft ballot will provide the recommendations of the Assembly to the Oireachtas about what should be included in legislation.

"Specifically, it will provide recommendations about the reasons, if any, for which termination of pregnancy should be lawful in Ireland, as well as any gestational limits that should apply."

Second ballot 

Earlier, the assembly voted to either replace or amend the Eighth Amendment. 

It means that members have voted against repealing Article 40.3.3 in Bunreacht na hÉireann entirely.

A power outage in Malahide Village delayed the second ballot. 

The assembly has been meeting for several months to consider how the Government should deal with the Eighth Amendment in our constitution.

Over the course of the next two days, they'll vote on their recommendations in secret ballots, with a final result due at lunchtime tomorrow.

Speaking at the Grand Hotel Malahide in Malahide, Co Dublin, head of the assembly Justice Mary Laffoy said: "This exercise in deliberative democracy allowed us to withdraw from the polarising perspectives".

"This is one of the most complex & contentious subjects in Irish society", she said, while praising the members for raising national discourse on this issue and appreciating different views.

How it will work

Ballot 1

  • The first vote will ask if the Eighth Amendment should be retained or not. If yes, voting ends there. If no, voters move on to ballot 2.

Ballot 2

  • The second vote asks assembly members if the Eight Amendment should it be repealed or replaced/amended.
  • If they choose to repeal, voters move to ballot 4A. If they choose replace or amend, voters move to ballot 3.

Ballot 3

  • If they choose replaced or amended, the vote on ballot 3 will be today.
  • Here, the options will be letting the Oireachtas legislate OR a new constitutional restriction on abortion.

  • If they choose option 1, letting the Oireachtas legislate, we move to ballot 4B. While the assembly would let the Oireachtas legislate, this ballot would instruct it on what that law should look like.

  • If members chose in ballot 3 to add a new constitutional restriction, they move to ballot 4C which has two parts. Part one specifies circumstances and gestational limits that abortion should be available. Part two let's the members state what abortion control should and should NOT be in the constitution

Ballot 4

  • If assembly members choose repeal, ballot 4a will allow the citizens to choose specific circumstances AND term limits, ranging from further restricting abortion law up to a "available on request" model.
  • The gestational limit options available are up to 12 weeks, 22 weeks and with no restriction at all.


Ms Laffoy made it clear that if the members vote against retaining the Eighth Amendment in the first ballot, there will be a referendum on the matter.

The assembly is going to follow election rules. If someone doesn't mark a box in one vote, it's a spoiled vote. It will also be spoiled if a voter selects more than one option in a specific question, when directed to only pick one.