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We The Citizens

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Our Projects

The Irish Citizens' Assembly

The Irish Citizens’ Assembly project

This website brings together in one site the Irish experience of using citizens’ assemblies to facilitate widespread constitutional and political reform. The genesis of this project was Ireland’s 2008/2009 financial and economic meltdown and the resulting anger over failings in our political system. We led a group of political scientists who proposed that citizens should be brought into the heart of debates over constitutional and political reforms to improve how our representative system of democracy operates. Our modus operandi was to seek to persuade the newly elected government in 2011 to establish a citizens’ forum – a “deliberative mini-public”. With generous funding from Atlantic Philanthropies we established

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Who We Are

Over the past decade Professor David Farrell and Dr Jane Suiter have been collaborating in research focused on Irish citizens’ assemblies. In 2008/09 during the economic crisis David and Jane led a group of political scientists who proposed that citizens should be brought into the heart of debates over constitutional and political reform. This culminated in the establishment of We the Citizens – Ireland’s first national citizens’ assembly. In 2012 the Irish government established the Convention on the Constitution: David and Jane led the academic advisory group. This was followed, in 2016, by the Irish Citizens’ Assembly: David and Jane secured Irish Research Council funding to provide research leadership.

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OUR NEWS

Citizens Assembly
Tuesday, 12th March 2019 – Press Releases

The Irish Citizens’ Assembly Project to receive 2019 Brown Democracy Medal

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — This year’s Brown Democracy Medal recognizes The Irish Citizens’ Assembly Project, which has transformed Irish politics in the past decade. This unique project, which started in 2011, led to a series of significant policy decisions, including successful referenda on abortion and marriage equality.

The project’s leaders, David Farrell of University College Dublin and Jane Suiter of Dublin City University, will receive the medal, presented by the McCourtney Institute for Democracy in the College of the Liberal Arts.

The project started with an initiative, called “We the Citizens” which operated in 2011. Its aim was to test whether a more deliberative form of democracy could work in Ireland at a time when people felt...