No tender issued yet to seek company to set up Citizens' Assembly on Eighth Amendment

No move – despite the self-imposed August deadline of the government.

NO GOVERNMENT TENDER has been issued for a polling company the government says it will contract to source people for a promised Citizens’ Assembly.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dáil that a polling company would decide the makeup of the assembly. The Fine Gael-led government committed to setting up a citizen’s assembly which would discuss the Eighth Amendment – among other issues – in the first six months of its term.

But it has now emerged that the tendering process has not started for the job, despite this October deadline (being generous and only counting from when Enda Kenny was elected Taoiseach of the 32nd Dáil).

The method of adoption of a citizens’ assembly will have to take into account gender, location, age, geography and so on and would obviously need to be chaired by a very competent person,” Kenny said yesterday.
All of that can be arranged and made available through the commissioning of a polling company, as happened in the previous citizens’ assembly, which was fair, regionalised, gender-balanced and age-balanced in the way it went about its business.

A government spokesperson confirmed that no tenders have been issued in respect of establishing such a grouping of people.

Although there are no specific guidelines for how much time is allowed for possible applicants to submit, they generally allow for at least two to three weeks. A decision then has to be made on who to award the tender to.

enda oo

Speaking in the chamber yesterday, the Taoiseach said he expects the assembly to report back on the controversial Eighth Amendment before the end of the government’s term in office, which is five years (although many believe it will not last to 2021).

When pushed by Ruth Coppinger about a deadline for the assembly to make its recommendations, Kenny said, “… I can’t answer that for you until the assembly is put together and begins its work.”

The Taoiseach said members of the Dáil will be able to vote according to their conscience in a free vote on the matter.

Kenny added:

It not as simple as saying, ‘Let’s have a referendum.’ It is much more profound than that.

Zika virus and the Olympics

During the debate, Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit deputy Brid Smith also raised the issue of the Zika virus.

She said the Brazilian government is advising the female population of Brazil not to get pregnant.

What does the Taoiseach say to Irish sportswomen, participants and tourists who want to go to Brazil for the Olympic Games? Do the Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Charles Flanagan advise them not to get pregnant?
If they get pregnant while in Brazil and are at risk of a deformed foetal abnormality, will they return to Ireland to be told they cannot have medical treatment here?

She asked what advice the Taoiseach would give female participants and spectators in the Olympic Games?

It is very important. While that amendment remains enshrined in our Constitution, such situations will be repeated and will be continually faced by women in this country, whether they are Irish citizens or not.

The Taoiseach said it is not for him to dispense advice as to whether or not people should go to Brazil.

The Zika virus exists whether or not the Olympic Games takes place. People may wish to go on business or holidays to a country in South America where the Zika virus exists. It is a choice they must make themselves.

“What happens if they return with a crisis pregnancy?” replied Smith.

“Is the Deputy asking me what happens if they go to Brazil and become pregnant in Brazil?” asked Kenny.

He said the Zika virus was there long before the Olympic Games and will be there long after the Olympic Games, whether people travel to Brazil or not.

I am not qualified medically to give people advice on the extent of the Zika virus. While the Deputy makes a very strong case, in 1983 the Eighth Amendment was introduced into the Constitution by the Irish people and it was a guarantee of the right to life of the unborn.
There were three referenda after it and, in each of those referenda by the people, not by any party, the people decided to keep the Eighth Amendment in the Constitution.

AAA/PBP’s Ruth Coppinger concluded by saying, “I am glad the Taoiseach is going to consider gender as an issue. It is very generous of him. The last time I looked, only one gender on the planet could become pregnant, namely, women.”

Read: Alan Kelly says he’s been proven right about Irish Water>

Read: Vincent Browne: Squalid little deals show it’s still old politics at work>

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