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Gender equality in Ireland is likely to be examined at the next Citizens' Assembly, according to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. 

Speaking in the Dáil, Mr Varadkar spoke highly of the assembly, saying how it had helped politicians gain a greater insight into public opinion. 

He went on to say that while good work had been done in relation the domestic violence issues such as gender pay, gender equality in pensions, and the number of women in top corporate positions needed further examination. 

Meanwhile, there are also calls for gender equality to be considered in the next budget. 

The Joint Committee on Budgetary Oversight are set to look at how legislation impacts the role of women in society when it launches its Gender Budgeting report. 

Committee member and Labour TD Joan Burton explained:

"Basically it's changing the basis on which budgets are prepared to actively include a consideration of budget issues as they affect women -whether that's women at work, women with childcare responsibilities, women looking after older people."

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Catherine Noone, a pro-choice Fine Gael senator, has been elected as the chairperson of the Oireachtas abortion committee.

Originally in was thought that Jerry Buttimer would take the position, however it has now emerged that Noone was unopposed in her candidacy.

Speaking about her new role, the senator said: “It’s a great honour and privilege to have been elected chair of the committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. I look forward to working with all of my colleagues from across the political spectrum to ensure the Committee fulfils its remit.”

The 21-person committee had been tasked with drafting the proposed changes to Ireland's abortion laws following recommendations made by the Citizen's Assembly.

Earlier this year, the assembly put forward recommendations that the Oireachtas should allow abortion without restriction in Ireland.

Noone's appointment comes after the news that Leo Varadkar has committed to a referendum on the issue in 2018.

The committee is not expected to hold public sessions until September, hever they will continue to proceed and are due to meet again in two weeks time, when the Citizen's Assembly report has been been received.

The committee must deliver it's conclusions to both Houses of Oireachtas within three months of its first public meeting.  

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A rally to remind the government to honour the advice of the citizens assembly has been called. 

The rally will take place at 5.30pm outside Leinster House in Dublin.

'Time for Action … No More Delays. Implement the Findings of the Citizens Assembly. Call a Referendum to #Repealthe8th,' reads the event description. 

The citizens' assembly met nine days ago and voted that Irish women should have access to abortion without restriction.

64 per cent of the assembly were in favour.

This outcome proves that the assembly, which is a representative of the Irish public, want the government to legislate for abortion.

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The Citizens Assembly met this weekend for the final time as the assembly continued to reconsider Ireland's controversial constitutional restrictions on abortion.

And it looks like everything is about to change, with the majority voting for access to abortions without restrictions.

Various members have been tweeting about it on social media today, with many praising the assembly for finally coming to the result that mostly everybody wanted.

It's a massive win for the pro-choice movement, which saw a 64 per cent favour in access to abortions without restrictions.

And everyone is rejoicing on Twitter:

The Citizens’ Assembly have made clear that the Oireachtas must assume responsibility for legislating for abortion.  That’s according to the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment.

Commenting today, Ailbhe Smyth, Convenor of the Coalition, said: “The Assembly members have recommended this matter be put fairly and squarely in the hands of the legislators – where it should always have been. 

“Our politicians know it is their duty, as members of the Oireachtas, to make laws.  When circumstances and public opinion are clearly demonstrating an urgent need for new legislation, they cannot shirk their responsibility. 

“The Government cynically established the Citizens’ Assembly to avoid making difficult decisions themselves.  Through their hard work and dedication, the Assembly members concluded what the Government should have known all along: that is the role of the legislature to legislate.

“This puts it up to our politicians now.  There’s nothing left for them to hide behind; they need to get on with addressing this issue once and for all," Ailbhe added.

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The Citizens’ Assembly have voted this afternoon to 'replace or amend' the 8th amendment rather than repeal it entirely. 

In a 56 per cent majority, the assembly feel that legislation to change or replace the 8th amendment is needed.

There will now be a third ballot presented to the assembly to distinguish how the article should be replaced or amended.

Two types of replacement or amendment are possible, the first option is that it should be replaced with a constitutional provision that explicitly authorises only the Oireachtas to legislate to address both termination of pregnancy and any rights of the unborn.

This provision would grant the government the exclusive power to make or amend law on these issues.

The second option decrees that the 8th amendment should be replaced or amended with a new constitutional provision that directly addresses both termination of pregnancy and any rights of the unborn.

This constitutional provision, as interpreted by the courts, would limit the law-making power of the parliament.

The voting will begin on Ballot 3 at 1.20pm, and the results can be expected at 5.20pm this evening. 

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The Citizens’ Assembly have voted today to amend the current laws on abortion.

In an overwhelmingly vote of 87 per cent to 13 per cent, the majority of the assembly feel that legislation to change the 8th amendment is needed.

The assembly was given a ballot paper this morning with two options. 

The first read that 'Article 40.3.3 should be retained in full', while  the second said that Article 40.3.3 should not be retained in full'.

The second vote was expected to get underway this afternoon, but a current power outage to the building has put a temporary hold on proceedings.

The results of Ballot 2, which will decide is the 8th amendment should be repealed entirely or amended, should be announced at 2.30pm. 

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The Citizens Assembly will meet this weekend for the final time as the assembly continues to reconsider Ireland's controversial constitutional restrictions on abortion.

The assembly will vote today to establish their recommendations on whether to change the current legislation.

The meeting this weekend will focus on establishing what will be included in a ballot that will be put to the members.

The assembly will decide whether to recommend to government to retain, repeal or reform the 8th amendment, after hearing a series of experts from both sides of the abortion debate. 

The assembly will begin at 10am.

 

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The Citizen's Assembly is in talks today discussing Ireland's stance on abortion. 

Today's meeting is the third of four that will focus on how the 100 randomly selected members should advise government legislators later this year, on the future of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.

Today, the members raised the issue that among the randomly selected 300 public submissions (out of the 13,500 received) which are being heard, there is a lot of repetition, particularly regarding people's religious stance in regards to abortion, which is not relevant to their deliberations.

The assembly heard the details of Irish women's abortion choices, with Irish women being more likely to have a surgical abortion in the UK than a medical abortion, according to the Irish Times.

This is because a surgical abortion can be carried out in a day, while a medical abortion, in which the woman takes abortion pills, requires an overnight stay.

According to Dr Patricia Lohr, the director of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, which is one of the leading providers of abortions for Irish women, Irish women procure an abortion on average one week later than UK based women, due to the necessity to travel.

Another issue raised at this weekends assembly is the possibility of extending Ireland's abortion laws to accept rape as an acceptable reason to procure an abortion. 

Tom O'Malley, a senior NUIG law lecturer, told the Citizens' Assembly that it would be impractical to have to wait for Gardai to prove that a rape had occurred and secure a conviction to allow for an abortion in the case of rape, as the conviction process can take up to three years, said RTE. 

The assembly also heard that  3,451 women from Ireland travelled for an abortion in 2015, with 135 of these due to a foetal abnormality.

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The Citizens' Assembly is hosting a formal debate between pro-life and pro-choice speakers this afternoon, as the assembly continues to reconsider Ireland's controversial constitutional restrictions on abortion.

Today's meeting is the second of four that will focus on how the 100 randomly selected members should advise government legislators later this year, on the future of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.

The randomly selected members will hear talks from academics and medical, legal and ethical practitioners on various topics including fatal foetal abnormalities.

Ireland’s Catholic Bishops and the pro-life side have both criticised the assembly's use of the term "fatal foetal abnormalities" in its agenda for the meeting.

A bishops' spokesperson told RTÉ that the term normalises abortion and de-personalises the life of the foetus. 

Individual case studies will also be discussed, including that of Amanda Mellet who received €30,000 in compensation from the Irish Government, after the United Nation's Human Rights Committee ruled that Ireland's ban on abortion was "cruel and inhuman". 

Over 13,000 public submissions were made to the Citizens' Assembly ahead of the meetings, after online campaigns from both sides encourage the public to get involved. 

The proceedings will be streamed on citizensassembly.ie.

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