Letting citizens speak: Ireland’s referendums and constitutional mini-publics

4 March 2019

Ireland has been a trailblazer in the use of deliberative mini-publics to discuss important topics of constitutional reform. The Constitutional Convention of 2012-14 and the Citizens’ Assembly of 2016-18 (whose membership comprised random selections of regular citizens) were established by the Irish government and tasked with considering a series of constitutional reform proposals.

Successful referendums on marriage equality in 2015 and abortion in 2018 have already taken place, with more referendums due in coming months. These provide good examples of how democracies can bring citizens into the heart of discussions over constitutional and political reform.

This talk by Professor David Farrell (University College Dublin) will set out the genesis of these experiments in the midst of Ireland’s worst ever economic crisis. It will review how these mini-publics were established, and their main outcomes. It will consider the common criticisms of forums such as these and consider their wider potential as democratic innovations.

Please register your attendance here.

Event details



Letting citizens speak: Ireland’s referendums and constitutional mini-publics

Where Room 203, Level 2 of RD Watt Building, Science Road, the University of Sydney, Camperdown  When

4 March 2019


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