Call for Nominations to the Constitutional Convention Expert Panel

The Wheel has joined the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and Amnesty in the Hear our Voices campaign to demand that Government meaningfully engage the community and voluntary sector in the work of the forthcoming Constitutional Convention.

There has been considerable interest in, and support for, the Hear Our Voices Civil Society Charter for a Constitutional Convention, which calls for a process that it is participative, inclusive and meaningful. The Charter is now available online, with a list of signatories, at www.hearourvoices.ie. More than 75 organisations and prominent individuals have signed up to date.

In response to popular demand, they are re-opening the Charter for additional signatures, with a new deadline of close of business next Friday, 27 July 2012. Please spread the word and encourage those in your networks to add their voices to this call for Government to hear the voices of civil society.

Endorsements of the Charter should be sent to hearourvoices@iccl.ie and will be added online after a verification process.

In addition, it has emerged that the Government has indicated privately to some civil society organisations that it is open to receiving suggestions regarding the composition of the “expert group” to be appointed to advise the members of the Constitutional Convention. In our view, this possibility should be opened up to a far broader range of organisations with expertise in areas to be discussed by the Convention, now and in the future.

Consequently, we are inviting you to submit your own nominations for experts who might best assist the Constitutional Convention to reach rights based conclusions.

Nominations are invited in respect of each of the topics identified in the resolution on the Constitutional Convention passed by the Oireachtas last week, as well in relation to economic and social rights, which may be discussed during a later phase of the Convention’s work. The complete list of topics in relation to which expertise is being sought is:

(i) reducing the Presidential term of office to five years and aligning it with the local and European elections;
(ii) reducing the voting age to 17;
(iii) review of the Dáil electoral system;
(iv) giving citizens resident outside the State the right to vote in Presidential elections at Irish embassies, or otherwise;
(v) provision for marriage for same-sex couples;
(vi) amending the clause on the role of women in the home and encouraging greater participation of women in public life;
(vii) increasing the participation of women in politics;
(viii) removal of the offence of blasphemy from the Constitution;
(ix) other relevant constitutional amendments (e.g., in relation to economic and social rights).

We invite you to nominate one or more persons whom you consider have expertise in relation to one or more of these topics. Nominations should be accompanied by a short biography (200 words maximum), as well as an indication that the expert concerned has agreed to be nominated by your organisation. All nominations should be sent by e-mail to hearourvoices@iccl.ie by close of business on Friday 27 July 2012. At close of nominations, we will compile a master list of suggestions from civil society and revert to you with suggestions in relation to short listing in a fair and efficient manner. A final, agreed shortlist of expert nominations from civil society will then be submitted to the Government.