The government of Ireland held two referendums in May 2015 on proposed constitutional amendments. The amendment permitting same-sex marriage was successful while the amendment to reduce the age of candidacy for Presidential elections failed to receive the necessary support to pass.
Problems and Purpose
Arising from the recommendations of the Irish Constitutional Convention, the Government committed to holding three referenda in 2015 in relation to:
- Reduce age of candidacy for Presidential elections (from 35 to 21)
- Same sex marriage
- Reduce voting age (from 18 to 16) 
Ultimately, only the first two were held.
Background History and Context
The Constitutional Convention was a deliberative forum established in 2012 for discussing constitutional amendments; it consisted of just over 100 participants: 66 randomly selected Irish citizens, 33 parliamentarians and an elected representative from each political party in the Northern Ireland Assembly.  Based on its recommendations, the government committed to holding three referenda in 2015 on marriage equality, the age of candidacy for presidential elections, and the voting age.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
This initiative was led by the Irish Department of Environment, Community and Local Government (DEC&LG) and Department of Justice and Equality (DJ&E). 
Participant Recruitment and Selection
The referendums were open to all eligible Irish voters.
Methods and Tools Used
Referendums in Ireland require a simple majority of the votes cast in order to pass.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
Only two of the three referendums in the original action plan were held. Irish voters voted in favour of extending civil marriage rights to same-sex couples, but rejected reducing the age of candidacy for the presidency. The third referendum outlined to reduce the voting age from 18 to 16 was not held. Interviews with the government suggest that the reason for this decision was the belief that it would be premature to proceed with this referendum with the other two in mind for May.
Amending the Irish constitution to allow same-sex marriage was approved by referendum on May 22, 2015 by 62% of voters, with a turnout of 61%. The bill to reduce the age of candidacy for presidency was rejected on May 22, 2015 by 73.1% against 26.9% in favour with a voter turnout of 60.5%.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The Constitutional Convention and subsequent referendums have promoted the participation of citizens on constitutional matters, fundamentally changing the precedent of citizen participation in national debates.
The new constitutional status permitted an amendment to the Marriage Act which came into force on November 16, 2015; the first same-sex marriage ceremony was held the following day.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
The effect of this commitment has been transformative. In addition to promoting the participation of citizens on constitutional matters, a referendum on marriage equality in a traditionally “Catholic country (in which divorce was only legalized in the 1990s), and then see[ing] same-sex and opposite-sex couples have the right to civil marriage as a result of the referendum, is an important step for Ireland.”
Experiences of deliberative democracy and the use of referenda “strengthen the confidence of citizens in public institutions,” thereby representing useful tools to promote progress and reform. Similar experiences could be used in forthcoming action plans.
 Open Government Partnership. (n.d.). Hold Referenda Arising from the Recommendations of the Constitutional Convention (IE0010). Retrieved from https://www.opengovpartnership.org/members/ireland/commitments/IE0010/
 Chari, R. (2017). Independent Reporting Mechanism: Ireland Progress Report 2014-2015. Retrieved from https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Ireland_2014-15_Final_0.pdf
 Government of Ireland. (n.d.). Plebiscite on the Draft Constitution 1937-2015. Retrieved from https://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/migrated-files/en/Publications/LocalGovernment/Voting/referendum_results_1937-2015.pdf [BROKEN LINK]
 McGarry, P. (2015, Oct 31). Same-sex marriage will be possible from November. The Irish Times. Retrieved from https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/same-sex-marriage-will-be-possible-from-november-1.2411959