Serious Concerns with Citizens’ Assembly

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Human Rights, National


 Thursday, 29th September 2016

Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment Outlines ‘Serious Concerns’ with Citizens’ Assembly

The Citizens’ Assembly must consult widely with medical, legal and human rights experts and report back to the Oireachtas by February 2017.  That’s according to the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment, which held an event in Dublin this morning (29.09.16) to highlight its concerns about how the Assembly will conduct its work.

Speaking at the event, Ailbhe Smyth, Convenor of the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment, said: “We have serious concerns about the Citizens’ Assembly, and we are appealing to its members to take these on board.

“First of all, we believe it is imperative that the Assembly consults widely with medical, legal and human rights experts, both nationally and internationally.  And, above all, there must be a recognition that the ultimate experts in this debate are women themselves.  The abortion debate has, for too long, been ruled by emotions; it now needs to be informed by expertise, experience and facts.

“Secondly, we would like to see a tight timeframe for reporting agreed at the Assembly’s first meeting on 15th October.  Public patience on this issue is running low.  Tens of thousands of people took to the streets last weekend for the March for Choice.  Against a backdrop of such widespread public demand for change, the Assembly must do its work efficiently and report back to the Oireachtas by February 2017.

“Furthermore, the Oireachtas Committee to consider the Assembly’s recommendations should be appointed now, and should also commit to making its recommendations to government within an efficient three-month timeframe.”

‘Remove, Not Replace’

Ms. Smyth said the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment wants the Citizens’ Assembly to focus on removing the Eighth Amendment completely from the Constitution, rather than replacing it with an alternative clause.

“A constitution is no place for reproductive healthcare policy,” she said.  “We want to see the Eighth Amendment removed, not replaced.

“Ireland is almost unique in having a constitutional clause that restricts reproductive choices.  Very few other jurisdictions have comparable restrictions – Chile, Hungary, El Salvador and the Philippines, for example.”

Coalition Members: Amnesty International, ICCL, IFPA, NWCI

Representatives from four member organisations of the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment also spoke at today’s event:

  • Niall Behan, Chief Executive of the Irish Family Planning Association;
  • Deirdre Duffy, Deputy Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties;
  • Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International; and
  • Orla O’Connor, Director of the National Women’s Council of Ireland.

The Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment is now the largest ever civil society grouping in Ireland working to achieve constitutional change on this issue.  Its 65 members range from human rights, feminist and pro-choice organisations to trade unions, NGOs and community groups.  Combined, the members represent 1.5 million people nationwide.

Further information is available at:


Contact: Martina Quinn / Emily Brennan, Alice PR & Events, Tel: 087-6522033 / 086-1658629

Notes to Editors

About the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment

The Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment is a growing alliance 65 organisations including human rights, feminist and pro-choice organisations, trade unions, health organisations, NGOs, community organisations and many others.  The Coalition’s members agree that the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution must be repealed in order to respect and protect the lives, health and choices of women in Ireland.  They are working together under the Coalition banner to raise awareness of the urgent need for a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment.  The Coalition has a steering group, which meets monthly, with Coalition member organisations nominating up to two representatives to attend each meeting.  Further information is available at or by following the Coalition on Twitter, @repealeight, or Facebook,

Coalition Members and Supporters

Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC), Action for Choice, AIMS Ireland (Association for Improvements in Maternity Services Ireland), Akidwa, Amnesty Ireland, Anti-Austerity Alliance, Anti-Racism Network, ASLEF the Union, Atheist Ireland, BeLongTo, Bi+Ireland, Bray and District Trade Councils, Choice Ireland, Communications Workers Union,  Community Workers Coop, Cork Pro Choice, Doctors for Choice, Dun Laoghaire Repeal the 8th,, Dziewuchy Dziewuchom, Equality & Rights Alliance (ERA), Galway Pro-Choice Group, Humanist Association of Ireland, Hun Real Issues, ICCL (Irish Council for Civil Liberties), ICTU (Irish Congress of Trades Unions), ICTU Youth, IMPACT Trade Union, Kerry for Choice, Labour Women, Lawyers for Choice, Limerick Feminist Network, LINC (Advocating for Lesbian & Bisexual Women), Mandate Trade Union, Medical Students for Choice, Midwives for Choice, National Traveller Women’s Forum, Need Abortion Ireland, NWCI (National Women’s Council of Ireland), Northern Ireland Alliance for Choice, One Family,  Outhouse, Parents for Choice, People before Profit Alliance, Rape Crisis Network Ireland, Re(al)Productive Health, Repeal 8th Global, Repeal Project, ROSA (Reproductive Rights Against Oppression, Sexism & Austerity), School of Social Justice UCD, Sligo Repeal the Eighth, Socialist Party, Socialist Workers Party, SWAI (Sex Workers Alliance Ireland), TCD Students Union, TENI (Transgender Equality Network Ireland), TFMR Ireland (Terminations for Medical Reasons Ireland), The Workers’ Party Ireland, Trade Union Campaign to Repeal the 8th,  TUC (UK), UL Medical Students for Choice, UNITE The Union, United Left Alliance, USI (Union of Students in Ireland), Waterford Trade Council, X-ile Project.