People involved in Constitutional Convention will be asked to waive anonymity

Friday 30 November 2012 23.43
NUJ Irish Secretary Seamus Dooley said the findings of the group have the potential to affect the lives of future generations
NUJ Irish Secretary Seamus Dooley said the findings of the group have the potential to affect the lives of future generations

The National Union of Journalists has welcomed the decision of the Chairman of the Constitutional Convention to ask members of the public who have accepted membership of the Convention to waive their right to anonymity.

The chairman of the convention Tom Arnold has written to the 66 members suggesting that their names and the general area in which they live would be made available, without publishing details of their addresses.

The forum, established by the Government to look at proposed changes to the Constitution, meets for the first time tomorrow.

Mr Arnold said he expects a full discussion on the matter of anonymity at tomorrow's meeting.

He said public confidence in the Convention was of critical importance, and the right to privacy had to be balanced with the level of transparency needed to reassure the public of the true representative nature of the group.

The convention is made up of 33 TDs and 66 ordinary citizens who were randomly selected as a representative sample by a polling company.

Those selected have requested anonymity, fearing that they will be bombarded by lobby groups and journalists if their identity is made public.

Irish Secretary of the NUJ Séamus Dooley said Mr Arnold was "responding to a public mood" and he expressed the hope that his request to participants would be met with a positive response.

"Tomorrow is an important day in Irish history and it would be a pity if it were to be marred by this issue. Mr Arnold's response augurs well for the future conduct of the Convention," he said.

Meanwhile, Senator Ivana Bacik welcomed the holding of the first meeting of the Constitutional Convention, saying it is an exciting initiative.

"It represents the first attempt by any government to provide for a citizen-led programme of constitutional reform - and has real potential to bring about changes to some of the most problematic and contentious aspects of the current text," she said.

Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams described the Government's approach to the Convention as "under-ambitious and limited”, but despite this, he said, his party will put a number of issues on the agenda, including voting rights in presidential elections for citizens in Northern Ireland and for Irish emigrants.

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