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Dáil descends into row over Citizens' Assembly recruitment criticism

The Citizens’ Assembly confirmed this week that seven of the 99 citizens were recruited improperly by Red C Research and Marketing.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

A SHOUTING MATCH broke out in the Dáil this afternoon when a number of TDs criticised the recruitment of people to the Citizens’ Assembly.

The Citizens’ Assembly confirmed yesterday that seven of the 99 citizens present at a meeting on 13 and 14 January had been recruited improperly by Red C Research and Marketing.

In statements from both the Citizens’ Assembly and Red C, the fault was placed on one specific Red C recruiter.

Postpone the referendum 

Speaking on the issue today, Fianna Fáil’s Eamon Scanlon called for the referendum on the Eighth Amendment to be postponed over the issue.

“The most sensible and democratic thing to do would be to select two [people] from every county and weight the rest after that,” he said, adding that having seven people appointed to the assembly in “an unapproved manner” was not acceptable.

He added:

I think this is wrong. I genuinely believe this referendum should be postponed and that the whole process has been compromised and I would call for an immediate audit of the Citizens’ Assembly’s entire recruitment process over the last 18 months because I think it has been compromised.

Sinn Féin’s Louise O’Reilly interrupted, addressing the Leas Ceann Comhairle, Pat ‘the Cope’ Gallagher stating:

This is utterly, utterly ridiculous. The matter has nothing to do with the referendum on the Eighth Amendment.

Shouting ensued from the back benches from TDs such as Tipperary’s Mattie McGrath, who raised the issue in the first instance.

He said the whole process was a “stitch-up”.

Health Minister Simon Harris, who was taking Leaders’ Questions today, replied: “I don’t know why you fear the people of Ireland having their say – and they will have their say in May.”

As O’Reilly and McGrath shouted across the chamber, the Ceann Comhairle tried to bring order.

“You are all out of order,” he proclaimed.

“This is an insult and I will not have it,” said O’Reilly.

Pointing at McGrath, who continued to shout, the Ceann Comhairle said:

I’ll take action against you if you continue, I’ll take action, and I am quite serious about this.
There has to be some decorum in the House.

Harris said he would address the question from Scanlon, stating that while the Citizens’ Assembly has taken place and made recommendations, the process has moved on.

“Our colleagues, the people of this House, people I respect, regardless of what jerseys they wear in terms of their politics, has carried out a process and soon every citizen in every county will get their say on this issue, that is the job of work we have to do. Give the people their say and let them have their say at the end of May,” he concluded.

Read: Seven people who took part in the last Citizens’ Assembly weren’t recruited properly>

Read: Leo says ‘bullying won’t be tolerated in Fine Gael’ following sexism allegations made by senator>

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