Audit Exposes Serious Flaws in Citizens' Assembly
An internal audit into the recruitment procedure for members of the Citizens’ Assembly has found serious flaws. It also reveals that the Assembly secretariat was advised at the outset that the conditions it laid down would likely lead to an unrepresentative and potentially biased selection of members.
The audit was prompted by the discovery that seven replacement members who took part and voted in the January meeting of the Assembly had been improperly recruited. The seven were selected by an interviewer through personal and family contacts, rather than randomly as should have been the case.
The audit, conducted by polling company RedC, which was contracted to recruit members for the Assembly, reveals that RedC advised the Assembly organisers, before the Assembly was convened, that the small number of participants would result in a margin of error as high as + or – 10%, “even if it is recruited to exactly match the population.”
RedC also warned that the government’s decision not to provide any incentive for people to participate in the Assembly would result in its members being disproportionately drawn from among those who had “a strong interest in the process” or “who are interested in political debate and discourse”. The polling company recommended that a modest financial incentive be offered “to ensure that we are able to recruit all different types of people”. The government acknowledged this advice but chose to ignore it.
Justice Mary Laffoy, who chairs the Assembly, said the improper recruitment of Assembly members was “regrettable”.
It was revealed last month that the government spent over €1.8 million on the Assembly up to the end of last year.
Family & Life. February 21. RedC. February 20. Oireachtas. January 16. RTÉ. February 22.