An insider’s view of Northern Ireland’s first Citizens’ Assembly

Catherine Leonard is a recent graduate from Ulster University’s Master of Science degree in Communications and Public Relations and was one of the eighty members of the Citizens’ Assembly that met over two recent weekends to examine the policy area and bring forward recommendations around social care for the elderly.

Are the terms civic “unionists” and civic “nationalists” an oxymoron?

  Over the past year we’ve heard many laments about the vacuum in decision taking but little specifically critical of politics from leaders of society. That’s par for the course for people who  have been keeping our  show on the road for decades. Few of them had little respect for political parties who in their view held society back. But now twenty years after the GFA and after a year – or many years by another measure – of deadlock, … Read more

What a Citizen’s Assembly can do for NI politics…

The Building Change Trust is funding a pilot Citizens’ Assembly initiative to take place in Northern Ireland in 2018 around a single topic. The project will be delivered by Involve – a charity that specialises in public participation.

More information on the nuts and bolts of the project can be found on the Trust’s website here. In this short video, the Trust’s Paul Braithwaite explains how he thinks a Citizens’ Assembly could play an important role in refreshing Northern Ireland’s democracy.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

Time to bring the citizen back in?

As Steven Agnew of the Green Party calls for a Citizens Assembly for Northern Ireland, Robin Wilson writes about the idea which has been under development by a group of citizens and voluntary sector organisations facilitated by the Building Change Trust over the past 6 months. Northern Ireland seems once again to have reverted to a default state of political dysfunctionality, with months and potentially years of further reluctantly-assumed direct rule from Westminster looming, with its associated ‘democratic deficit’. While … Read more

The Citizens’ Assembly has spoken: We must repeal the 8th Amendment.

  Over the past weekend the Citizens’ Assembly in Ireland finished hearing testimony and voted on the issue of abortion. The results were surprisingly and emphatically pro-choice, and they represent a resounding success for this experiment with deliberative democracy. Democracy was meant to be deliberative. The idea was that citizens, motivated not by selfish or sectarian drives but by civic duty, would discuss the issues facing their society with a view to arriving at the best possible outcome for everybody. … Read more