Wednesday, January 29th 2014
- Extension of time granted to the Constitutional Convention will enable it to complete its work as delegated by the Oireachtas.
Establishing the Constitutional Convention was a key feature of the political reforms which formed part of the Programme for Government. In the twelve months since the Convention first met it has conducted its work with detailed vigour to ensure that all of the issues being considered were fully debated and examined. The decision of Government and subsequent approval by Dáil Éireann to extend the mandate of the Convention to the end of March is a very welcome development and will enable it to complete its full programme of works.
The Convention was tasked with examining a whole range of issues in a bid to assess whether they should be put to the people in a Referendum to allow for Constitutional change. Over the last twelve months the Constitutional Convention has considered issues including reducing the Presidential terms to five years, reducing the voting age, a review of the Dáil electoral system, encouraging greater participation of women in public life and marriage equality. It has allowed for each of these issues to be considered in detail and recommendations were then forwarded to Government.
The work of the Convention has given us a better understanding of the public mood on each item considered. With 66 members of the public taking part in the Convention it is the first time that the general public will be given an active role in the direction the country takes in terms of policy formation. This has allowed citizens to participate at an early stage in the process of considering constitutional change. The citizen members of the Convention deserve special mention; they have given a very high level of commitment and sincerely participated in each of the debates, their input is what has made the Convention the success that it is.
The Constitutional Convention has been a significant democratisation of the process of policy formation. It has ensured that the views of citizens form an integral part of the decisions taken by Government and the Oireachtas. The extension of time will now enable it complete its programme of work and ensure that it gives detailed consideration to all of the issues referred to it.