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Seána Glennon

Seána Glennon (Sutherland School of Law Doctoral Scholar)

Supervisors: Professor Eoin Carolan and Professor Gavin Barrett

Research Area: Constitutional Law and Deliberative Democracy

Thesis Title: Deliberative Minipublics and Legal Change: The Impact of the Citizens’ Assembly on the Reform of Ireland’s Abortion Law


Deliberative minipublics are novel institutional innovations that have been embraced by a variety of countries around the word to enhance democratic legitimacy and help combat democratic decline. Minipublics are designed to improve democratic machinery by enhancing citizen participation through facilitating deliberation among a representative sample of society, including those traditionally underrepresented or excluded from formal legal change processes. Ireland stands out as a trailblazer internationally in the consistent use of minipublics in the constitutional and legal reform arena over the past decade. Much has been written about Ireland’s experience of establishing minipublics, in the form of citizens’ assemblies, in advance of landmark constitutional referendums. The impact of these novel deliberative structures on formal public law processes, however, remains an understudied area. This research makes a new and timely contribution to the literature: an examination of how deliberative minipublics can be effectively integrated with more traditional public law processes, using the Irish citizens’ assembly on abortion as a case study. Lessons can be drawn from this study for both empirical scholars and policy-makers seeking to incorporate minipublic deliberation in a more meaningful way in public decision-making processes in the future.


Seána Glennon is a doctoral candidate at the Sutherland School of Law, University College Dublin, researching in the areas of constitutional law and deliberative democracy. Her thesis focuses on the role of citizen deliberation in constitutional and legislative reform processes, and examines the impact of the Irish Citizens’ Assembly on the landmark reform of Ireland’s abortion law.

As Chief Outreach Officer at UCD’s Centre for Constitutional Studies, Seána regularly organises workshops and conferences for constitutional law scholars, including UCD’s inaugural New and Emerging Voices in Constitutional Law symposium in 2023. She has presented her research at a range of international conferences, including the Public Law Conference and the IACL-AIDC Junior Scholars Forum in 2022, and the Osgoode Hall Law School ATLAS Agora Summer School and the Law and Society Conference in 2023.

Seána is recipient of the 2019 UCD Sutherland School of Law doctoral scholarship. She is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin (LL.B) and the University of Toronto, Canada (LL.M). She has also held a visiting research fellowship at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto. Prior to embarking on an academic career, Seána practised as a lawyer in a large international law firm in Dublin, specialising in public and administrative law. She is qualified as a solicitor in Ireland, England and Wales.

Seána is a regular media commentator on legal and political issues in Ireland and her opinion pieces have appeared in national publications, both in print and on line, including the Irish Times, the Business Post and the Journal. In addition to her research, Seána has co-lectured the UCD Sutherland School’s Introduction to Law in Ireland module and tutored constitutional law. She has guest lectured at Queen’s University Ontario’s Feminist Legal Studies speaker series, and Osgoode Hall Law School’s graduate seminar.

Seána will join the University of Ottawa Public Law Centre in 2024 as a postdoctoral fellow, under the supervision of Professor Vanessa MacDonnell.

Presentations and/or Publications

  • Seána Glennon, ‘O’Doherty and Waters v Minister for Health: A Missed Opportunity for Judicial Scrutiny of the Response To An Extraordinary Crisis’, Irish Jurist, 2023, ACCEPTED
  • Eoin Carolan and Seána Glennon, ‘Deliberative Mini-publics as a Tool of Constitutional and Legislative Agenda-setting and Consensus-clarification: A Reply to Professors Oran Doyle and Rachael Walsh’, International Journal of Constitutional Law, 2023, ACCEPTED
  • Eoin Carolan, Silvia Gagliardi, Seána Glennon, Ailbhe O’Neill, ‘(opens in a new window)Ireland: Legal Response to Covid-19’, in Jeff King and Octávio LM Ferraz et al (eds), The Oxford Compendium of National Legal Responses to Covid-19 (OUP)
  • UCD New and Emerging Voices in Constitutional Law symposium: organizer and panellist (2023)
  • Law and Society Conference 2023: panellist (2023)
  • International Association of Constitutional Law, 2022 Junior Scholars Forum: panellist (2022)
  • The Public Law Conference, University College Dublin: panellist (2022)
  • Association of Transnational Law Schools (ATLAS) Agora, Osgoode Hall Law School: presenter (2022 and 2023)
  • Inter-American Academy of Human Rights, International Observatory on Judicial Decisions on Abortion from a Comparative Perspective: panellist (2022)
  • Seána Glennon, ‘More Power to the People? The Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality and The Future for Minipublic Deliberation in Ireland’, (opens in a new window)IACL-AIDC Blog(15 June 2021)
  • Seána Glennon, ‘The Anti-Mask Movement and the Rise of the Right in Ireland: What does it Mean for our Democracy?’(opens in a new window)COVID-DEM(7 January 2021) and cross-published in the(opens in a new window)IACL-AIDC Blog(12 January 2021)

Selected Media:

UCD Sutherland School of Law

University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.