Expelling Taoiseach’s nominees to the Seanad

Eoin O’Malley, 25 August, 2010

Fionnan Sheehan this morning on RTÉ repeated a complaint he made in yesterday’s Irish Independent about the inability of Brian Cowen to sack the Senators that were nominated by a Taoiseach (in this case by his predecessor). He thinks that ‘the notion of the Taoiseach of the day being able to nominate senators but not have any control to remove them is ludicrous.’ But is he right? Continue reading

Fianna Gael? The grand coalition and a lesson from the history books

By Gary Murphy 23 August, MMX

It may be the silly season but the front page article in the Irish Daily Mail on Sunday suggested that a number of disaffected Fine Gael politicians were secretly discussing a type of merger with Fianna Fail after the next election as they do not want to go into coalition with those dastardly left wingers in the Labour party. Continue reading

Australia’s electoral administration shows up shortcomings in Irish system

1.8 million Australian voters used the ‘early voting’ facility provided by the Australian electoral commission in the three weeks before today’s election to cast their votes, a record number. The Australians also have facilities for voting if a citizen happens to be outside of the electoral district in which they are registered on the day of the election. Simply put, Australia makes it much easier for its citizens to vote than Ireland does. This is partly because voting is compulsory in Australia, but their approach to making voting as easy as possible for their citizens should inspire Irish electoral administrators to similar efforts.  

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Gender quota debate rumbles on – but are the two sides talking past each other? (Updated 18th August)

Sarah Carey’s article in today’s Irish Times is the latest contribution in the debate on  whether we should consider adopting party-level gender quotas for the nomination of candidates. This article appears to me to be a particularly striking example of the combative rhetorical strategies that both sides of the debate have employed. Several opinion pieces on this topic have followed the structure: I am for/against gender quotas – now let me tell you why they are wonderful/terrible.

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Female candidacies in 2009 local elections

Claire McGing and Adrian Kavanagh (August 5, 2010)

A report on trends as to female candidate selection levels for the upcoming 2014 Local Elections can be viewed here.  

In light of ongoing discussion in relation to number of female TDs, this piece – a section from an article we wrote on last year’s local elections that we never managed to find a home for (sob!) – might be of interest as it gives an overview of female particicipation in electoral politics at a local level, with specific reference to last year’s contests.

17.1% of all candidates in the 2009 local elections were females. This figure marginally bucks the trend set over the previous two decades of increasing levels of female participation in local electoral contests, wherein female participation rates had increased from 11.0% in 1985 to 14.0% in 1991, 15.6% in 1999 and 18.1% in 2004. Continue reading

Today’s women TDs don’t want gender quotas

David Farrell (August 4, 2010)

In today’s Irish Times Mary Minihan reports on a survey of the existing women TDs about their views on gender quotas and the consensus is distinctly against any such move for Ireland. This is on the back of the recent report of the Joint Committee of the Constitution’s call for steps to be taken to increase the numbers of women candidates fielded by the political parties. The Joint Committee stepped back from recommending party quotas on the grounds that they might be unconstitutional.

The top 10 parliaments in terms of representation of women

International evidence demonstrates that women quotas are very effective in increasing the proportions of women parliamentarians. Indeed, Rwanda provides an interesting example in this regard. So, the fact that legal advice suggests that such a move might be unconstitutional here, and the fact that most existing women TDs don’t want them means that, not for the first time, Ireland stands out as rather quirky. Should the constitutionality question be tested? Should existing women TDs be allowed to block women quotas?

Tasc discussion papers on FOI

TASC, a left-leaning think tank, have published two discussion papers by Dr. Nat O’Connor which are of particular relevance to political reform.

The Role of Access to Information in Ireland’s Democracy

and

An Economic Argument for Stronger Freedom of Information Laws in Ireland. 

The papers are part of a project on Public Information, which will restate the case for strong laws to enforce the public’s right to know what government and public bodies are doing.