Finance, ‘best advice’ and ministers

Eoin O’Malley (28 June 2010)

The decision to review the advice and structures of the Department of Finance is to be welcomed (see Eddie Molloy and Dan O’Brien on this here and here). It is pretty obvious that the department lacks the capacity to give good advice to ministers, and that it was careful never to give information out that might damage its own reputation or that of its minister. Continue reading

Red C Poll 27 June: How Do Figures Translate Into Seats?

Adrian Kavanagh (28 June 2010)

The latest Red C poll points to a remarkably consistent trend in terms of support for the three largest parties – again underlining the significant “Gilmore Gale” increase in support for Labour but also highlighting the strenght of Fine Gael support. But how would these figures translate into seats should these results be replicated in a general election? This analysis suggests that the link between party support and seats is not as clear as may be thought, despite the relative proportionality of the Irish electoral system.  This analysis suggests that, on these figures, Fine Gael would win 65 seats, Labour would win 48 seats, Fianna Fail would win 46 seats, Sinn Fein would win 5 seats, while 2 seats would be won by independents and other small parties. On these figures, the Green Party would fail to win a seat. Continue reading

Is the Dail ‘too busy’ for by-elections?

David Farrell (June 25, 2010)

The controversy over the government’s willful blocking of any attempts to call the long over-due by-elections continues. The following letter appeared in today’s Irish Times:

Madam, – The Government chief whip, John Curran said it is inappropriate for the Dublin South byelection to go ahead now because the Dáil “is in the middle of an extremely busy legislative programme” (Dáil Report, June 24th). I suppose that is the same reason Donegal South West has been without a TD since May 2009.
Maybe if the Dáil stopped taking such long recesses (so much longer than any normal worker could dream of), and instead put in the hours that they are so well paid for, then democratic Ireland would have the time to allow all her citizens to be represented. – Yours, etc,

Does this really feel like such an ‘exceptionally busy time’ for the Dail? Continue reading

Tread carefully in the reform of our state agencies

by MUIRIS MacCARTHAIGH (June 25, 2010)

The role, governance and political accountability of state agencies has generated a lot of political and media attention recently. Much of this commentary, however, is conducted in the absence of any agreement of how many of these organisations there actually are, and what the overall trends in the agency population are or have been in Ireland.

A new study published by the IPA identifies 249 non-commercial agencies in Ireland and also finds that while the overall number of agencies has begun to decline for the first time (due in large part to the agency rationalisation process announced in Budget 2009), the pace of change is slow and with futher agency rationalisations now inevitable (as part of future current expenditure cuts) there are lessons to be learned from the experience to date. The report also identifies that there are over 2000 positions on the boards and governing authorites of these organisations, a large number of which are politically appointed. (See also here).

Regulation and the financial crisis: the mess we’re in

Professor Michael Moran (June 23, 2010)

This guest blog is by Mick Moran, WJM MacKenzie Professor of Government, University of Manchester and is an edited text of the keynote address to the Biennial Conference of the European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on Regulatory Governance, and was presented at University College Dublin, 18 June 2010.

Four quotations aptly summarise the mess we are in, and the way we got there. Continue reading

Time for a new political party?

by David Farrell (June 23 2010)

A letter in today’s Irish Times calls for the creation of a new political party:

Madam, – With all the recent musings and mutterings from various media sources about the possible establishment in Ireland of a new political party, may I add my voice of consent to the chorus and suggest that what is needed is a truly liberal party which would provide a real alternative to the social democratic Labour Party and the centre-right conservatism of both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, now indistinguishable from each other?

The liberal tradition, with its emphasis on the inviolable dignity of the human person (including the unborn), the defence of the uniqueness of the individual, freedom, rights, responsibilities, self-determination, equality of opportunity and minimal governmental interference/intervention has much to commend it, if articulated cogently, convincingly and passionately.

Nietzsche was surely right to view liberal democracy as the offspring of philosophy (still sadly not taught in our secondary schools) and Christianity (which is much in need of rejuvenation and reorientation). Liberal politics, founded on classical ethics and rooted in transcendent reality, has potentially mass existential appeal and could do this State some real service. – Yours, etc,

Combined with recent articles by Vincent Browne and Fintan O’Toole, who call for a new force on the political left, this does raise an issue that is at least worth considering. Continue reading

Freedom of Information and Corruption

by Donal O’Brolcáin (June 21, 2010)

On Wednesday last, 16th June 2010, in a talk on BBC Radio 4 Dan Lucas, London correspondent for the Swedish Dagens Nyheter newspaper, gave an overview of Swedish-style Freedom of Information laws, as part of a talk in the three part series ‘Home Thoughts from Abroad’. (As of this Sunday evening, the podcast can be listened for another 3 days here). Continue reading

Time to give our younger citizens a voice?

By David Farrell (June 21, 2010)

The following letter appeared in today’s Irish Times:

Madam, – On behalf of sixth class girls of Scoil Phádraic Cailíní, we would like to put forward some ideas about children having a say in political matters. After a debate in class we began to realise we would have to wait at least six or seven years before we can vote. One proposal we discussed in class to address this problem is having meetings with local TDs who could explain to us about the workings of local politics. We found that the majority of adults, politicians, etc, do not take us seriously simply because of our age; while we believe that we should be judged as individuals regardless of our age.

We also thought of introducing politics as an option in secondary school to develop our ideas and broaden our career options and understanding. This way we would be better qualified to make decisions in the future. …In conclusion, we believe that whatever age you are, your feelings and contributions should be respected. – Yours, etc,

Scoil Phádraic Cailíní

Why do we hold to the position that someone must be 18 before they can vote (which, if you’re unlucky about your birthday timing could mean waiting until your 22nd birthday before you actually get to vote)? Continue reading