‘Enormous’ task for citizens’ assembly

Ms Justice Mary Laffoy , the chair of the citizens’ assembly, has hailed a “hugely successful” first meeting to discuss the Eighth Amendment, but she said it was a “vast” challenge that “could overwhelm us”.

The assembly gathered for its first meeting in Dublin on Saturday morning and will hold three further meetings to consider the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, with the next due on January 7/8.

Ms Justice Laffoy also said that, to date, the assembly had received 600 submissions from members of the public, representative groups, and citizen organisations, on the topic of the Eighth Amendment, ahead of the closing date for receipt of submissions on December 16.

Assembly members heard presentations by medical, legal, and ethical practitioners and academics, before then breaking into roundtable discussions and, subsequently, a plenary session.

Ms Justice Laffoy said: “The discussions, this weekend, have been robust, illuminating and comprehensive. This weekend, I made a very conscious decision that the members should receive the facts about the current position, without commentary about the perceived advantages or disadvantages of the current regime.

“It is essential that the members have that strong grounding, to allow them to be able to make their own judgements about material that is presented to them in future weekends.

“The task we have before us, over the next three weekends that the assembly meets, is enormous.

“It could overwhelm us, but we must remain steadfast in our commitment to fulfilling the task set for us by the Oireachtas,” she said.

All presentations made to the assembly, and associated papers, are available on www.citizensassembly.ie.

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