Knowledge Democracy: the potential of participatory and deliberative democratic research in applied academy, community and policy contexts

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Posted on behalf of Dr Clodagh Harris (UCC) and Dr Gemma Carney (QUB)

On Monday April 7th the PSAI specialist group on participatory and deliberative democracy in partnership with Campus Engage will be hosting a seminar on ‘Knowledge Democracy: the potential of participatory and deliberative democratic research in applied academy, community and policy contexts’.

Professor Gerry Stoker (University of Southampton), the key note speaker will present on ‘Using research to see like a citizen’. Other papers will look at the relevance of political science, civic engagement in higher education, and citizen participation and empowerment in local government. The seminar will run from 10-1pm and will take place in the NUI offices in Merrion Square. All are welcome. Please contact Dr Gemma Carney at g.carney@qub.ac.uk to register. Full programme below. Continue reading

Sovereignty Regained: Has the bailout changed the Irish State?

On April 4th, the Department of Government at UCC will host a one day conference Sovereignty Regained: Has the bailout changed the Irish State? The conference brings together a group of Irish politics academics, columnists and political editors who will consider the post bailout political environment for voters, parties and public office holders. Paper givers will assess the reform agenda, its implementation and the evolution of public institutions since the crisis. All are welcome and a full programme for the day is available below. To register please contact Margaret O’Leary by email at Margaret.oleary@ucc.ie Continue reading

It’s not just the Commissioner, stupid!

Elaine Byrne, 25 March 2014

The traditional attitude to scandal in Ireland is to politicise and personalise. We move on once the head-on-the-plate has been delivered. Or we just move on without it. The third anniversary of the Moriarty Tribunal fell last weekend – but let’s not go there (the hot weather in exile is some compensation). 

Let’s get it right this time. The government are actually introducing far-reaching legislation that will make elements of Ireland’s ethical infrastructure that of international best practice. Ireland is not corrupt but that perception is there because we mess up on the small stuff. 

The resignation of the Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan should not have happened. He was damned if he did, damned if he didn’t – long before his “disgusting” remarks about whistleblowers.

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What should happen now?

For the last 18 months I was a consultant on the European Commission anti-corruption report on Ireland. This involved liaising with stakeholders from many of Ireland’s watchdog agencies. The problems they articulated were similar across the board - resource capability, legislative limitations, overlapping responsibilities and ability of the different oversight organisations to co-operate and share information. I wrote about this here and hereAn independent audit of all oversight agencies is long overdue, as articulated by former financial regulator Mathew Elderfield last year.

The Garda Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) has made two specific reform proposals (among many others). 

1. Reform the whistleblower framework 

GSOC should act as the external confidential recipient. A position where the Gardaí receive complaints of corruption or malpractice about themselves was never a runner. Changes to the whistleblowing framework are already underway, there was a high level Inter-Departmental meeting on this issue already this week. 

2. The Garda Commissioner must be subject to civilian oversight 

GSOC currently have responsibility to oversee policing but this does not extend to the Commissioner. GSOC should have the capacity to investigate allegations of misbehaviour by the Garda Commissioner where it is in the public interest.

 

British Irish Institutional Structures: Towards a New Relationship

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Posted on behalf of John Coakley

This blog presents the arguments from a paper in the special issue of IPS ‘Breaking Patterns of Conflict in Northern Ireland’ . Available here  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07907184.2013.874999

The last years of the twentieth century and the early years of the twenty-first were marked by a steady but little noticed redefinition of the British-Irish institutional landscape. This is all the more striking since it emerges from a significant reformulation of the nationalist narrative, which in the early years of the state, and, indeed, up to 1949, had been marked by a dismantling of links with the United Kingdom.

The most important institution in principle emerged out of the negotiations between Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government and Garret FitzGerald’s Fine Gael-Labour coalition: the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference established by the Anglo-Irish agreement of 1985. Overtly designed to give the Irish government a voice in the British government’s administration in Northern Ireland, it also placed pressure on unionists to negotiate a power-sharing deal, since the Conference would not have jurisdiction over areas managed by a devolved administration in Belfast. Continue reading

The Complexity of British-Irish Interdependence

Posted on behalf of Paul Gillespie

This blog presents the arguments from a paper in the special issue of IPS ‘Breaking Patterns of Conflict in Northern Ireland’, available here http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07907184.2013.875001 The transformation of British-Irish relations from dependence to interdependence from the 1960s to the 2000s occurred in an international setting dominated by both states’ membership of the EEC/EC/EU and their various relations with the USA’s global hegemony, politically and economically. The paper interprets these changes by reference to complex interdependence and other theories in international relations. Northern Ireland was a central factor in this transformation, but was not its primary cause, since both Ireland and the UK have an abiding interest in normal, stable inter-state relations aside from that conflict. Continue reading

March in like a lion but not out like a lamb for the larger parties: Analyses of March opinions polls

Adrian Kavanagh, 1st March 2014

March came in like a lion for the three largest parties in the state but definitely did not go out like a lamb. The latest Sunday Independent-Millward Brown poll saw Fianna Fail, Labour and Fine Gael all losing significant levels of support relative to the previous such poll while Sinn Fein and the Independents and Others grouping made gains at the expense of these parties. The Sunday Business Post-Red C poll, taken some weeks later, produced a largely similar result, although support levels for Fianna Fail and the Independents and Others grouping did largely remain static in this. The Irish Times-Ipsos MRBI poll of 4th April does offer better news for Fianna Fail (as well as the Independents/Others grouping) while mirroring the trends in other two polls as to the Fine Gael and Labour poll figures. The Irish Times-Ipsos MRBI poll (4th April 2014) estimated party support levels as follows (and relative to the previous such poll): Fine Gael 25% (down 5%), Fianna Fail 25% (up 3%), Sinn Fein 21% (NC), Labour Party 8% (down 1%), Independents, Green Party and Others 21% (up 3%). My constituency-level analysis of these poll figures estimates that party seat levels, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election, would be as follows: Fianna Fail 44, Fine Gael 44, Sinn Fein 32, Labour 7, Independents, Green Party and Others 31. The Sunday Independent-Millward Brown poll (2nd March 2014) estimated party support levels as follows (and relative to the previous such poll): Fine Gael 27% (down 3%), Sinn Fein 22% (up 6%), Fianna Fail 21% (down 5%), Labour Party 8% (down 4%), Green Party 2% (up 1%), Independents and Others 20% (up 5%). My constituency-level analysis of these poll figures estimates that party seat levels, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election, would be as follows: Fianna Fail 36, Fine Gael 54, Sinn Fein 36, Labour 4, Green Party 1, Independents and Others 27.  The Sunday Business Post-Red C poll (30th March 2014) estimated party support levels as follows (and relative to the previous such poll): Fine Gael 26% (down 3%), Fianna Fail 22% (NC), Sinn Fein 21% (up 5%), Labour Party 9% (down 2%), Independents, Green Party and Others 22% (NC). My constituency-level analysis of these poll figures estimates that party seat levels, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election, would be as follows: Fianna Fail 36, Fine Gael 49, Sinn Fein 33, Labour 8, Independents, Green Party and Others 32 Continue reading

Can Pragmatism and Profitmaking help build Peace?

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Posted on behalf of Katy Hayward and Eoin Magennis

Blog from the Special Issue of Irish Political Studies: Breaking patterns of conflict in Northern Ireland: the British and Irish states

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07907184.2013.875896#.UxCl3IXn_o4

When asked to conjure up an image of a typical ‘peacemaker’, people in Ireland, north and south, may think of a wildly diverse range of people: from ‘American President’ to ‘working class woman from the Shankill Road’… but it is very unlikely that ‘wealthy Dundalk business man’ would feature among this imaginary group. Indeed, although discourses connecting economic growth with peaceful ‘normalisation’ are well-established in Ireland, the contribution of the private sector to bridging these goals is rarely suggested. Our starting point for this paper was the realisation (coming, in part, through the witness seminars of the Institute for British-Irish Studies)* that a crucial section of the population has been left out of most accounts of how patterns of conflict in Ireland have been broken: the private sector. Continue reading