Image of the Northern Ireland Citizens' Assembly at work, in the foreground is a banner that reads 'Citizens' Assembly for Norther Ireland'

NIAC urge the Government to institute a Citizens’ Assembly in Northern Ireland

Published on

5 Dec 2023


Earlier this week, the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee (NIAC) published their report into the effectiveness of the institutions of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement'. As part of it, they ‘urge the Government to begin preparations for establishing a Northern Ireland Citizens’ Assembly.’

Based on experience of running Northern Ireland’s first citizens’ assembly in 2018, our Head of Northern Ireland, Rebekah McCabe, shared our support for 'structured civic engagement' committed to in New Decade, New Approach (NDNA).

Here's a few key recommendations from evidence we submitted to NIAC in 2020:

  1. A reformed Civic Advisory Panel needs to be established. Great care needs to be taken with these appointments, as it would play a key role in supporting the Executive to set topics for citizens’ assemblies, and other forms of public participation.

  2. Whatever the topic, it needs a clear question with a genuine range of possible solutions. 

  3. The Department responsible for the topic needs to support the process & there needs to be non-partisan support for taking it to a citizens’ assembly. It also needs to be clear what can be influenced by the citizens' assembly, and what can't.

  4. Decision-makers should publicly commit to consider & respond in detail to the recommendations of the assembly.

  5. To ensure impartiality & public confidence, its design & delivery should be independent from the commissioning body, with oversight from the Civic Advisory Panel.

See the evidence that we submitted to NIAC in full here.

See the committee’s report in full here