On 25 May 2018, the Irish electorate voted to remove the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution, which banned abortion in almost all circumstances. Every constituency but one voted in favour of repeal.
After decades of campaigning, increasing pressure for change, and the avoidable deaths of many women, politicians were still reluctant to address the issue head on. This deadlock was broken when a panel of 99 ordinary citizens came together in a Citizens’ Assembly. After hearing evidence, it concluded that the existing constitutional provision was no longer fit for purpose and recommended that it be changed to allow the Irish legislature to determine the law. This required that a referendum be called.
One year on, we ask:
-What were the drivers of success in 2018?
-How did the creation of the Citizens’ Assembly affect campaigners’ strategies?
-What can campaigners in the UK learn from the Irish experience?