Seanad Public Consultation Committee

Posted by Elaine Byrne

As part of a process of internal reform, the Seanad have established the Seanad Public Consultation Committee (SPCC) which will be launched next week.

According to the Oireachtas press release, this Committee will use new procedures to open up access to the Seanad and to invite submissions from the Public.

It will work like this. The committee will pick a topic and contributions will be confined to that subject. Submissions will be invited from the public and various interest groups. Relevant hearings will be heard in public in the Seanad Chamber, following which the committee will issue a report. The first topic picked by the Committee is “The Rights of Older People”

What topics would you like discussed in the Seanad and who should be invited to speak?

Is there (still) a future for the Seanad?

Post by David Farrell (September 29, 2011)

Today’s Irish Times reports on a speech yesterday by (former leader of the Senate) Maurice Manning to Senators. This results from the Senate’s initiative to invite ‘outsiders’ onto the floor of the chamber to speak frankly to them. And by the looks of things Dr Manning’s comments were frank enough (see here for the full article). He called on the Senate to make greater effort to demonstrate to the Irish people that it does have a role. If this Senate, unlike it’s predecessor, chooses to listen to this and follow his advice, are they too late? The signals from on high suggest that the referendum on the future of the Senate will happen? And the lust for political sacrifice seems as strong as ever.

And they’re off! has these odds for the presidential race up:

Michael D.Higgins evens
David Norris 9/4
Martin McGuinness 4/1
Gay Mitchell 8/1
Mary Davis 12/1
Sean Gallagher 40/1
Dana Rosemary Scallon 50/1

Looking like a two-horse race (candidates very rarely win with odds outside of 3/1). Will be interesting to see if these numbers shift in the coming weeks…

Presidential nomination debacle shows up a dysfunctional elite

It seems hard to believe that, back in 2004, we didn’t even bother to hold an election for Ireland’s president. There was no campaign and no election that year because our elected politicians prevented ANY opposition candidates from being nominated (not providing their support to Dana, who looks set to be frozen out again in 2011). This meant we faced an ‘ incumbent-only’ ticket – and hence held no election. We are happy to criticise such travesties when they take place in, say, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, or Sepp Blatter’s FIFA – but, as I recall, there wasn’t much of an uproar in Ireland at the time.

Continue reading

Red C-Sunday Business Post polls (25th September): Transfer patterns suggest Higgins to win with Davis as main challenger

Adrian Kavanagh, Sunday 25th September 2011

The main message coming from the two Red C-Sunday Business Post opinion polls, published on 25th September, is that vote transfers would see Michael D Higgins win the presidency despite trailing David Norris in terms of first preference votes. In all, the polls offer mixed messages for the government parties, some cold comfort for Fianna Fáil in the wake of the previous week’s disastrous Millward Brown Lansdowne poll figures for that party, and very good news for Sinn Féin and the Others grouping.  Transfer figures provided with the presidential election poll suggest that, in order to go on to win the contest, Davis Norris would need to almost ten percent ahead of Michael D Higgins on the first count, while Martin McGuinness would need to be eight percent ahead. Continue reading

Should Fianna Fáil run a presidential candidate?

By Michael Gallagher

FF has got itself into something of a tangle over the presidential election. Torn between a range of options that seems to proliferate all the time – run its own candidate, facilitate a FF member to run as an independent, facilitate any independent who requires signatures to secure a nomination, allow each of its Oireachtas members to do what they want, or refuse to allow any FF Oireachtas member to assist anyone to secure a nomination – the party seems to have ended up in a situation from which there is no simple way out and, moreover, to have stirred up the first speculation about a leadership heave or a full-scale split into the bargain. Continue reading

Taxi for Fianna Fail? Sunday Independent-Millward Brown Lansdowne poll 18th September 2011

The Sunday Independent-Millward Brown Lansdowne poll offers a somewhat different picture of the political landscape to the Sunday Times/Behaviour & Attitudes poll of 4th September. While it continues the trend of strong poll showings by Fine Gael, this poll sees Labour’s standings back at the levels enjoyed by the party earlier in the year and marks a stark contrast to the 12% support level for that party in the Sunday Times poll. The most dramatic figure however is the exceptionally low 10% rating for Fianna Fail, meaning that if support levels for all parties and groupings were exactly replicated in a general election contest that Fianna Fail would just about have enough TDs left to fill a taxi. Continue reading

Referendum move to reverse Abbeylara one step closer

Post by David Farrell (September 13, 2011)

The Irish Times reports today (here) that the proposed constitutional amendment to reverse Abberylara — a move that was promised in the Programme for Government — was published yesterday. This will give Oireachtas committees the sort of scrutiny powers that are common in other democracies. The referendum on this will be held on October 27, the same day as the Presidential election.  As the Irish Examiner reports (here), in presenting the amendment to the Dail, Minister Howlin said that, if passed, this would open the way for a parliamentary investigation of the banking crisis.

Open Letter to TDs and Senators

Posted on behalf of Donal O’Brolcáin
Open Letter to TDs and Senators

“…In 1766, when a new young radical government came to power convinced that only transparency could deal with the corruption that was looting the Swedish state and society a Freedom of Information Act was passed… ”

A Cháirde,
I write to ask you to mark the first six months of this Oireachtas by personally putting down a Bill to immediately repeal the 2003 Freedom of Information Act (FoI) which modified the original act of 1997. The older act would then become effective with all its original power, as one of the checks and balances we need in our way of governing ourselves.

This simple action would fulfil an objective set out in the Programme for Government: “…we will legislate to restore the Freedom of Information Act to what it was before it was undermined by the outgoing Government …” Continue reading