A CITIZEN'S ASSEMBLY FOR NORTHERN IRELAND?

Posted: 2018-03-03

If true, this is good news. All strong democracies recognise that citizens and civic associations should have an active role in politics

According to the BBC, plans for a Citizens’ Assembly in 

Northern  Ireland are advanced and it is hoped that the body will be up and running this year.

 

This is good news. All strong democracies  recognise that citizens and civic associations should have an active role in politics. The Republic of Ireland has had such a body since 2016, considering abortion, fixed term parliaments, referendums, population ageing, and climate change. It is made up of 100 members selected by ‘sortition’: a large random sample is whittled down to make it as demographically representative of the adult population as possible.

 

A number of individuals from diverse backgrounds have come together, assisted by the Building Change Trust, in support of the idea for Northern Ireland and it has agreed to furnish £100,000 towards its budget. As Robin Wilson suggested in the Belfast Telegraph (25th January): “After years of growing frustration with Northern Ireland’s political performance, it offers a means to enlarge public engagement with politics for the common good”.

 

It might actually mean that the main parties listen to the voice of the people on issues such as abortion, same sex marriage, integrated education and an Irish language act.

Brian McClinton March 2018