Parliamentary Triangle Seminar Series

Democratic Conversations: Ireland's constitutional mini-publics

Wed 6 March 2019Professor David Farrell, University College of Dublin, Dr Nicole Curato, University of Canberra and Dr Simon Niemeyer, University of Canberra / 5.30 to 7.15pmMembers Dining Room, Old Parliament House

Join Professor David Farrell, University College of Dublin, Dr Nicole Curato, University of Canberra and Dr Simon Niemeyer, University of Canberra for a discussion on how the Republic of Ireland has been a trailblazer in the use of deliberative mini-publics for important topics of constitutional reform, including marriage equality.

Light refreshments and drinks will be provided. Bookings are essential as places are limited. Entry is via the pedestrian bridges, Queen Victoria Terrace.

Event details

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

As mini-publics, in both cases the membership comprised random selections of regular citizens; however, in the case of the ICC one third of the members were professional politicians representing all the political parties in the national parliament.

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 Democratic Conversation will set out the genesis of these experiments in the midst of Ireland’s worst ever economic crisis.

Professor Farrell, the designer of the ICC, will review how these mini-publics were established, their main outcomes, and the government follow through. It will consider the common criticisms of forums such as these and consider their wider potential as democratic innovations.

A panel of Australian experts, including Dr Nicole Curato and Dr Simon Niemeyer, will consider the implications of the Irish case for how we can rebuild trust and strengthen democratic practice in Australia.

Democratic Conversations is part of a series of public events hosted by Democracy 2025—an initiative by MoAD (Museum of Australian Democracy) and the University of Canberra’s Institute of Governance and Policy Analysis (UC-IGPA).

About the speakers

Professor David Farrell isProfessor of Politics in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University College Dublin. His research focuses on the role of deliberation in constitutional reform processes.

Dr Nicole Curato is a sociologist known for her academic work on deliberative democracy and her media work providing academic commentary on politics in the Philippines.

Dr Simon Niemeyer is an Associate Professor and co-founder of the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the University of Canberra.

Registration: Please click here to register for the event.

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