Even though the public delegates voted overwhelmingly in favour putting Citizen Initiatives into the Constitution at both previous Citizen Assemblies in 2013 and 2018, the Government are continuing to ignore the recommendations made by the delegates. To make matters worse, on the 12th June 2019, the Government have launched yet another Citizens’ Assembly however it will ignore the recommendations made by the previous assemblies. This assembly will review gender equality.

Here is a link to the Governments current political exercise. https://www.rte.ie/news/politics/2019/0612/1054940-gender-equality/

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Below are four key implements that provide clear evidence the Irish people want to improve the political system in Ireland and that they also want citizens to participate in making decisions that impact Irish society. What this initiative really needs now is more vocal / public support from public groups and organisations who understand the implementation of Citizen Initiatives will benefit them and provide them with another tool to help them achieve their aims whatever they might be. 

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The Citizens' Assemblies

Another clear message from the Irish people was delivered at the latest Citizens' Assembly who discussed the topic: The manner in which referenda are held. The assembly met to discuss the topic on the 13th and 14th January 2018 and those attending voted overwhelming in favour of Citizens Initiatives (People-initiated referenda)

Members of the assembly also learnt that over 76% of all public submissions called for Citizen Initiatives / People-initiated referenda. Citizen Initiatives would provide citizens with the power to veto legislation as well as enact new legislation and constitutional amendments. 

There have been two Government sponsored citizen assemblies in the past 5 years and citizens have voted in favour of Citizen Initiatives at both. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the media don't appear to be interested in what interests the Irish people.   

One Year Initiative Submission to the Citizens’ Assembly 2018

This is the One Year Initiative Submission to the Citizens' Assembly for the topic. 

To whom it may concern,
Article 6.1 of the Constitution which states: “All powers of government, legislative, executive and judicial, derive, under God, from the people, whose right it is to designate the rulers of the State and, in final appeal, to decide all questions of national policy, according to the requirements of the common good.”

However, the Irish people only get the opportunity to have the final say when the Government deems it necessary for them to do so using a referendum. As a result, the Irish Constitution does not provide an adequate mechanism for ongoing citizen participation in the legislative process with a view towards the shaping of national policy in accordance with the common good. This belief and desire was clearly illustrated when eighty three percent (83%) of delegates to the 2012 Constitutional Convention (Citizens’ Assembly) voted in favour of people-initiated referenda with the appropriate safeguards.

A change in Irish politics is necessary, a change where Irish citizens are the beating heart of Government. Therefore I propose the Citizens’ Assembly considers the benefits of people-initiated referenda as a key part of a reinvigorated, renewed and fairer political system. Currently, only Government can initiate referenda in Ireland. This is a proposal to provide the Irish public with a mechanism to petition and initiate referenda also. This single mechanism will subsequently enhance and complement our representative democracy as well as introducing additional checks and balances.

The Citizens’ Assembly could decide a new mechanism for people-initiated referenda or it could recommend the implementation of the One Year Initiative (1Yi). This initiative is a specific process to achieve the objective of putting people-initiated referenda into the Irish Constitution. Firstly, a new Citizens’ Assembly would be established. The assembly would have one year (hence the name ‘one-year initiative’) to formulate a mechanism for people- initiated referenda for citizen initiatives and citizen veto. After the year when the mechanism has been formulated, the mechanism would be presented to the Irish people to decide by referendum if they want the mechanism put into the Irish Constitution. I am proposing this approach to ensure citizens participate in both devising the mechanism as well as ensuring all citizens ultimately decide as to whether the mechanism is added to the Constitution.

It’s also important to note that people-initiated referenda are currently available to citizens in no less than one third of European countries such as Switzerland, Italy and the Netherlands. They also were available in the 1922 Constitution within Articles 47 & 48 prior to the introduction of the 1937 Irish Constitution.

I sincerely hope you take this opportunity of doing something magnificent – indeed, unprecedented – for Ireland. Please see this exhortation for what it is: a chance to be remembered as another assembly who strove to reform an ineffectual political system and, in doing so, to make history and enhance democracy for Ireland.

Yours sincerely

Dáil Motion

Some other great news. 47 Deputies and 13 Senators agreed to a plan to progress to the One Year Initiative that will literally be a political game changer. As well as opposition politicians, the One Year Initiative is also being supported by two Junior Ministers, John Halligan and Finian McGrath and Katherine Zappone, Minister for Children and Youth Reform. 

They have agreed to put forward a joint motion calling for the establishment of another Citizens' Assembly. The assembly will have one year (hence the name One-Year-Initiative) to formulate the mechanism/process for *Citizen Initiatives / People-initiated referenda. After the year when the mechanism has been formulated, the Irish citizens will decide by referendum if they want the mechanism put into the Irish constitution. As you can imagine, when implemented, this reform that will benefit all Irish citizens and future generations.

The motion is now on the House of the Oireachtas Order of business for the Dáil and it has also been also put on the Order of Business for the Seanad. 

To help get the motion passed, we really need the public to get involved. Please share this news with your family and friends as it is unlikely we will receive any media attention going by the lack of attention to date. To get involved, simply go to the Get involved page of this website to link in with other supporters of the One Year Initiative. 

* Citizen Initiatives / People-Initiated Referenda are legally binding referenda. They are initiated by ordinary people through generating a national petition. 

Click to read the Dáil motion

Click to read the Seanad motion


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