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Posted 13 April 2011

Citizens invited to help renew trust in Irish public life

UCD Professor David Farrell is the academic leader of a team of political scientists that will oversee a study of the processes and outcomes of a new independent initiative aimed at helping to renew trust in public life in Ireland - We the Citizens.

The initiative, funded by Atlantic Philanthropies, will bring citizens together in new forms of public decision making to help renew Ireland’s democratic political system and contribute towards the restoration of trust in public life.

We the Citizens will host a national citizens’ assembly in June of this year. The assembly will consider proposals on ways to make political institutions better serve the people of Ireland.

The agenda of the assembly will be set by the outcomes of several citizen led events and a nationwide poll surveying a cross section of Irish society. 150 people from the poll will be invited to take part in the assembly.

Speaking at the launch of We the Citizens on 12 April, UCD Professor of Politics David Farrell, Head of the School of Politics and International Relations at University College Dublin said that citizens’ assemblies have been successful in other countries.

“They are a new and innovative way of allowing citizens to be actively involved in taking important decisions that affect our daily lives. Citizens are given the opportunity to be informed, to consider and debate all sides of an argument: they are then able to take decisions on what are often quite complex issues.”

Professor Farrell has participated as an expert witness to citizen assemblies in British Columbia, Ontario and the Netherlands.

The Steering Board of We the Citizens is made up of Irish citizens from across the private, public and NGO sectors, who are providing their time and expertise pro bono.

We the Citizens is organised in association with the Irish Universities Association the representative body for the seven Irish Universities.

“This is an important contribution to national debate on the future of our political system and processes. The joint involvement of academia and society in that dialogue underlines the value which the universities place on community engagement,” said Ned Costello, IUA Chief Executive.

The Chairman of We the Citizens is Fiach Mc Conghail, Director of the Abbey Theatre. Its Executive Director is Caroline Erskine.

The academic team includes: Dr Jane Suiter of University College Cork; Dr Eoin O’Malley of Dublin City University; and Dr Elaine Byrne of Trinity College Dublin.

An international board of academics with experience in the best practice of citizens’ assemblies will provide advice to the new initiative.

For more see:


(Produced by UCD University Relations)


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