The referendum decision: if you don’t know (& if you’re not consulted) vote no

Post by David Farrell (October 30, 2011)

The failure of the referendum on Oireachtas enquiries by 47%/53% is, to say the least, a ‘disappointment’ for the government. But is the result all that surprising? Quite apart from the intense debates over the merit of the proposal (including in a series of posts on this forum), the plain fact is that this referendum fell foul of the well-worn adage: ‘if you don’t know vote no’. It also didn’t help that citizens were not given a greater say in the process leading up the defining the referendum question: the rationale for and design of the referendum question was imposed from the top without any effort to engage with citizens in advance. Continue reading

The Need to Change Our Political Culture is Paramount

Pat Leahy (posted by David Farrell, October 28, 2011)

Here is the text of Sunday Business Post’s Pat Leahy’s remarks to the 2011 Kenmare Economics conference

The Irish economic crash has been turbo charged by a profound failure of our politics and our political system to comprehend the economic realities of the world, to be self-aware, to regulate its own desires and ultimately to practise good government

Moreover these failures are represented at every level of the political system, from government ministers to TDs, to the political and wider media that regulate and conduct our national debate, to local authorities to individual voters. They also, I am afraid, extend to economists.

These failures happened not just because of a series of bad policy decisions, but because of something much deeper than that: because they reflect our political culture. Continue reading

Betting odds for the Presidential election 2011

Eoin O’Malley (26 October 2011)

We might be interested in betting markets as a rival to polling for measuring shifts in support, particularly in Ireland where polling is comparatively infrequent and irregular. The idea is that people putting real money on a result may know something, and that those who do have information will see value in odds,  and the market will be efficient because bad offers will be exploited by those with information. I’ve tracked the Paddy Power election odds for over a month, and graphed what the market thinks the result will be, over time – it is a representation of the odds for ‘who will be the next Irish President?’. Continue reading

Gallagher poll lead widens in weekend polls while Sinn Fein and Independents gain in terms of party support

Adrian Kavanagh, 25th October 2011

The final series of opinion polls at the weekend saw Sean Gallagher maintain, and even widen somewhat, the lead he established over Michael D. Higgins and the other candidates in the previous weekend’s Sunday Business Post-Red C poll, although the sheer momentum he had built up over the previous few weeks has abated somewhat. Continue reading

Inquiries referendum is lazy measure that won’t empower the Oireachtas

Eoin O’Malley 24 October

The referendum on the 30th amendment – the inquiries referendum – is on the face of it something most people would want to support. It seeks to empower the Oireachtas to hold inquiries which should strengthen the government oversight function. Specifically it seeks to overturn (or render void) the decision in Maguire v. Ireland (the Abbeylara Judgement) which among other things:

 “as there was no provision in the Constitution which expressly authorised the Oireachtas to conduct inquiries of the nature which had been undertaken by the Abbeylara sub-committee, any such power must be inherent or implied. Continue reading

Oireachtas Referendum – The wrong reform

Posted by Elaine Byrne

For the last ten years, Ireland was one of the only modern democratic parliaments in the world which was legally prevented from inquiring into matters of national importance. Thursday’s referendum to overturn the 2002 Maguire v Ardagh Supreme Court decision on the Oireachtas Abbeylara inquiry seeks to rectify that. In principle, parliaments should have the power to conduct inquiries into matters of general public importance.

The debate, to date, has not captured the public’s attention, with many content to leave it to the lawyers. But by digging deeper into the very rationale for the referendum, we can understand the underlying reason for the overwhelming failure by Irish public life in the last decade.

Ireland has one of the weakest parliaments in Europe. The Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, has went as far as arguing that the government ‘has had a free hand to do what it liked, free of any real accountability and free of effective scrutiny from parliament.’ Although article 28 of the constitution states that “The Government shall be responsible to Dáil Éireann” it has always been the other way around.

Continue reading

An Irish Citizens’ Assembly is promised by Phil Hogan

Post by David Farrell (October 22 2011)

Speaking at a roundtable on political reform last night that was organized by the Political Studies Association of Ireland, Minister Hogan said that details about the proposed constitutional convention will be confirmed within weeks of the presidential election. And, he made it clear that a citizens’ assembly would form part of that process. For Irish Times coverage, see here.

This is the first time since the election, that a government minister has confirmed that there will be a citizens’ assembly.

In place of the Referendum Commission

After the Nice Treaty referendum it was decided to change the terms of reference of the Referendum Commission so that it no longer gives arguments for or against the proposed amendment. Instead it sets out the rationale for the amendment and what it sets out to do. It does not engage in whether the proposal is likely to be effective in this. Because of this the Referendum Commision’s information pack is disappointing and arguably biased – if all it can do is set out the rationale for a proposal all it can really say is what the government put in the memorandum attached to the relevant bills.

Because of this restriction lawyers in UCD Law School have taken on the job – and done it very effectively (and for free). Their setting out of the arguments for the 29th and 30th referendums are here and here. They set out what the documents attempt to do here.

Po-Mo pushes Gallagher into significant lead as presidential election contest points to influence of political classes

Adrian Kavanagh, 17th October 2011

The Sunday Business Post-Red C poll shows momentum for Sean Gallagher continuing and now pushing him well ahead of Michael D. Higgins and other contenders and on these figures he could expect to enjoy a comfortable victory on the final count by more than 200,000 votes. Just as interesting is the degree to which this campaign is opening up, or rather intensifying, questions to do with politicial class divisions that exist within Irish society (rural, urban middle class, urban working class) and impact on parties, voters and various elements of the political commentariat. Continue reading