Latest: Citizens Assembly votes to give power to Oireachtas regarding abortion

Update 7.25pm:The Citizens' Assembly has voted by 51 to 38 to replace the Eighth 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.

It marked the end of a busy day in Malahide, which was interrupted mid-morning by a power outage for a short while.

Members had three different ballots about the Eighth Amendment to vote on today.

This morning, they were asked simply if Ireland's abortion laws should be changed - in which they voted by a huge majority in favour of.

The second ballot asked members if the Eighth Amendment should be repealed OR replaced and amended.

That motion was much closer - with the replace or amend side pipping in the end.

After a lunch break, attention then focused on ballot number three.

Two options were presented to the Assembly again this time. Option one would allow for the Oireachtas to legislate for abortion while option two asked whether the potential replacement should refer explicitly to abortion and associated rights.

57% of members voted in favour of option one.

They will meet again tomorrow morning, where they will vote on one final ballot.

After that, a report will be prepared for the Oireachtas, due to be published by the end of June this year.

Update 6.05pm: Members of the Citizens Assembly are voting on the potential wording of the replacement to the Eighth Amendment.

In the past hour, members discussed possible changes to the two options on the table.

They will now decide whether the potential replacement should refer explicitly to abortion and associated rights or whether it should allow for the Oireachtas to legislate for abortion.

Responding to the recommendations, Sinn Féin health spokesperson, Louise O’Reilly, said that for Sinn Féin the only option is to repeal the eighth and enact legislation in the Dáil.

Deputy O’Reilly expressed disappointment at the recommendation of the assembly to replace the article in the constitution with amended wording, but stressed that the responsibility must now turn to the Dáil select committee to convene and conclude its work with urgency.

O’Reilly said: “Sinn Féin has been consistent in our criticism of the government’s attempts to kick the can down the road on the issue of the eighth amendment. We believe that the Citizens’ Assembly served that very purpose. However, the Assembly has done its job and I commend the participants for their work.

“These are recommendations and recommendations alone. This work has not concluded. It is now the job of the select Oireachtas committee to convene and report in a timely manner on this issue. There can be no more delay tactics."

Update: 3pm: The Citizens Assembly has voted to replace or amend our abortion laws.

It comes as the body meets for the final time this weekend - to discuss how the Government should deal with the issue.

The assembly will send a report to the oireachtas after a series of votes this weekend - which is now expected to lead a referendum.

Update 1.30pm: The Citizens Assembly has voted by 87% not to retain the Eighth Amendment as it currently stands.

The secret ballot is the first in a series being held this weekend, related to the constitutional ban on abortion.

Four more votes on the issue are being held over the course of the weekend.

The 99 citizens have been asked to make a recommendation to the Oireachtas on whether the Eighth Amendment should be retained, amended or repealed.

Chair of the Citizens Assembly Justice Mary Laffoy says the outcome of today's first vote could lead to a referendum.

Update 1pm: The Citizens Assembly has been disrupted due to a power outage.

It is understood that power has now been restored, however it is not yet clean when the proceedings will get back up and running.

Update 12.20pm: The results for the first ballot at the Citizens Assembly are in.

87% of members voted the Eight Amendment should not be retained in full.

Earlier; The Citizens Assembly will meet this weekend for the final time to discuss the Eight Amendment of the Constitution.

The 95 members of the assembly, who have been meeting since last October, will vote today on their recommendations on whether to retain, repeal or reform the current legislation on abortion.

The programme for this weekend will focus on reaching recommendations to be included in a ballot that will be put to members of the Citizens Assembly.

They will focus on the precise wording on such ballot and voting on it.

The Assembly has heard over four weekends on the topic of the Eight Amendment, where experts from both sides of the abortion issue have been sharing their opinions on the current legislation.

Voting in any ballot set to take place today will be in secret and the counting of the papers will be overseen by Mr. John Fitzpatrick, the former Returning Officer for County Dublin and his team.

It's intended the results of the ballot will be announced as soon as the votes have been counted and verified and this announcement will be done by the Chair in the public session.

Following this weekends vote, a report will be prepared by the Chairperson of the Citizens Assembly for the Oireachtas, which is due to be published by the end of June this year at the latest.


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