OECD Report on Dáil Reform.

Published by Elaine Byrne 13 November 2015

The OECD published a preliminary draft of its Review of Budget Oversight by Parliament: Ireland this week.

The report can be accessed here

Key points:

  • Budget oversight by the Irish parliamentary chambers is under-developed by international standards.
  • 17 recommendations which include –
  1. Ex ante parliamentary input to medium-term fiscal planning;
  2. Ex ante parliamentary input on budget priorities;
  3. Early publication of full budgetary information and legislative proposals;
  4. Timely consideration of the Estimates of Expenditure;
  5. Performance Dialogue with joint committees in early year;
  6. Re-introduce “Pre-Budget Estimates” showing “no policy change” expenditure baselines;
  7. Establish an Irish Parliamentary Budget Office to support parliamentary engagement and budget scrutiny;
  8. Continuing Professional Development of parliamentarians and officials;
  9. “Performance hearings” with joint committees in early part of the year (February-March);
  10. Power for joint committees to recommend changes to performance information;
  11. Systematic review of existing performance metrics;
  12. Estimates Performance Reports;
  13. Promotion of IrelandStat as an authoritative portal for public performance;
  14. Linkages to higher level strategies and articulation of a “National Performance Framework”;
  15. Establishment of a “National Performance Quality Panel”;
  16. Role for Irish Parliamentary Budget Office in supporting performance scrutiny;
  17. Selective Audit of Performance Information by the Office of the Comptroller & Auditor General in reports to the Public Accounts Committee and other committees.

Irish Citizens Decide: A Review of the Irish Convention on the Constitution

A free event to be held at UCD Newman House, November 13, 2015, 9.30am-1.00pm

To register, see here

Ireland’s Convention on the Constitution, which met from late 2012 to early 2014, was a world first both in allowing ordinary citizens a place in discussions about the future of our Constitution and also due to its role in the calling of the marriage referendum earlier this year.

This half-day seminar – which has been supported by the Department of the Taoiseach – will review the work, operation and outcomes of the Convention. The panelists will include former members and organisers of the Convention, the academic team who supported and monitored its operation, and journalists who provided critical coverage of it.


9.30 arrive and registration

9.45: Welcome and introduction: Prof Ken Carty (research director of the British Columbia citizens’ assembly) will make some opening remarks

10.00: Panel discussion on the Convention and its outcomes. Confirmed participants include: Tom Arnold (Chair of the Convention), Art O’Leary (Secretary), Dr Jane Suiter (DCU), Dearbhail McDonald (Legal Editor, Irish Independent), and Senator Katherine Zappone, Deirdre Donaghy and Aideen Larkin (three members of the Convention).

11.30: tea/coffee break

12.00: What can we learn from the Irish Constitutional Convention? A presentation of research findings by the academic team who supported the work of the Convention.

13.00: End of workshop. A free lunch will be provided.

Reflections on the new architecture of European economic governance – 27 November

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Posted on behalf of Dr Emmanuelle Schon-Quinlivan

Since 2009, many articles and books have been written on the causes to the Eurozone crisis, the potential solutions as well as their consequences for European economic integration. Most of the literature has taken a liberal intergovernmentalist approach or even ‘new intergovermentalist’ stance which focuses on the prevalence of the Member States’ role in the handling of the crisis and the consequential relegation of the European Commission as an unwilling agent in manoeuvring to gain more powers. In a multi-level economic governance context which has seen the reshuffling of the power cards between the various stakeholders, this workshop has selected contributions addressing issues of power, supranational entrepreneurship and integration.

The workshop will take place at the NUI offices on Merrion Square on November 27. Everyone is welcome at the workshop, please email Dr Emmanuelle Schon-Quinlivan at e.schon@ucc.ie to confirm attendance for catering purposes. Further information is available at http://www.ucc.ie/en/government/news/fullstory-609936-en.html Continue reading

Irish Polling Indicator: Independents/Others are popular, but fragmented


About five months out from the expected date of the general elections, Fine Gael continues to lead in the opinion polls with around 26% support. While the party is down about 10% compared to the last general elections, its competitors are fragmented and therefore Enda Kenny’s party manages to continue its lead. This is estimated by the Irish Polling Indicator, which aggregates the results of the four major Irish polling companies. Continue reading

Political Studies Association of Ireland Annual Conference, 16-18 October, Cork


The annual conference of the Political Studies Association of Ireland will take place this weekend (16-18 October) in the Metropole Hotel in Cork. Information on conference registration is available at http://www.ucc.ie/en/government/psai/ Please see below for more information on the roundtables, keynotes and parallel sessions over the weekend. For more information, please contact Dr Theresa Reidy at t.reidy@ucc.ie Continue reading

Who has the right to decide when the election takes place?


Amid the current sometimes fevered speculation over the date of the election to the 32nd Dáil, one constant refrain is that the timing of the election is the prerogative of the Taoiseach. Members of Fine Gael, while they might express a personal preference, are punctilious in adding that ‘of course’ it is entirely up to the Taoiseach when the election takes place. More surprisingly, Labour TDs also seem to defer to this notion.

In some ways this is natural enough. After all, the Constitution states quite categorically: ‘Dáil Éireann shall be summoned and dissolved by the President on the advice of the Taoiseach.’ (Article 13.2.1). The Taoiseach does not need to consult, let alone secure the agreement of, anyone else, be that the Tánaiste, the government, the Dáil, the Council of State, or the parliamentary party. Hence, if Enda Kenny, today or at any time over the next five months, were to travel up to the Park and advise the President to dissolve the Dáil, that would settle the matter.

Yet perhaps things are not quite so straightforward. After all, constitutions consist not only of what is written therein but also of interpretations and of conventions that have developed about how the political process is to be conducted. Conventions are not as rigid as the words of a constitution and thus can change over time in response to events or to changing beliefs about how politics should be carried on, but nonetheless they carry weight while they last. What is written in a constitution might in reality give a partial or unrealistic view of what actually happens, and political practice might be rather different from what a literal reading of the constitution would imply.

Continue reading

Upcoming Workshop: Electoral Management Policies and Priorities

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Electoral Management Policies and Priorities

On 16 October 2015, there will be a half-day workshop looking at electoral management practices in Ireland and abroad. The programme includes election specialists working on electoral management bodies, voter registration and the regulation of political parties. The workshop is taking place in the Metropole Hotel in Cork and everyone is welcome. Please email Dr Theresa Reidy on t.reidy@ucc.ie to confirm attendance (for catering purposes). The event is funded by a grant from the Irish Research Council under the New Foundations Scheme. Continue reading