As stated by the fictional character of Sir Humphrey Appleby in Yes Minister ‘Open Government is a contradiction in terms. You can be open, or you can have government. The Thirty Year rule is a good example of this situation.
The thirty year rule allows for the release of Cabinet Documents after the efflux of a thirty year period from the year in which they were created. Section 10 of the National Archives Act allows for the inspection of records except where they are less than 30 years old (s.10.1 (a)) or older than 30 years where their release may be contrary to the public interest, breach of statutory duty or cause damage or distress to living persons (s. 8.4). The documents which are the subject to the provisions of s 8.4 can be reviewed after a period five years by a member of the Government Department responsible for the records. Furthermore, under s.10.6 a Minister, or member of Government, is entitled to grant access to departmental document prior to the elapse of this thirty year time period. This section was used in 1992 to allow for the release of Cabinet Documents in the wake of the confusion of the Hamilton Judgment. Continue reading
Stephen Collins writing in last Saturday’s Irish Times he argues that one of the big commitments made by the Coalition during the February election and again after it took office was that it would reform the political system. He adds that while there have been some welcome changes to date, they represent a tinkering at the edges rather than fundamental reform. Continue reading
The Sunday Times-Behaviour & Attitudes poll (18th December 2011) points to a more than signficant dip in support for the government parties following the budger, with a notable recovery for Fianna Fail building on a strong showing in the Dublin West by-election and Sinn Fein occupying second place in the party rankings. With support levels and projected seat numbers roughly similar for both the government alliance and the most likely alternative government and both somewhat off the level required to ensure a majority in the Dail – party seat levels would be estimated as follows: Fine Gael 61, Labour 13, Fianna Fail 36, Sinn Fein 33, Green Party 2, Others 21 - the likelihood of a hung Dail would be very strong based on these figures unless Fine Gael and Fianna Fail were willing to enter a coalition government. But the main thing to emerge from this poll is what seemed to be unthinkable only a few months ago – the possibility that Fianna Fail will be in government again after the next general election. Continue reading
By Eoin Daly, School of Law and Government, DCU
Will Ireland need to hold a referendum to ratify the fiscal ‘compact’ recently agreed by 26 EU member states? To answer this, I will explain the concept and status of sovereignty in the Constitution. This, in turn, dictates whether, and under what circumstances, Ireland’s participation in supra-national institutional systems requires constitutional amendments specifically permitting such arrangements. Continue reading
The Sunday Business Post-Red C poll (4th December 2011) shows a dip in support (albeit not a dramatic one) for the government parties, with a notable recovery for Fianna Fail building on a strong showing in the Dublin West by-election (and probably also related to Sean Gallagher’s strong campaign for the presidential election). Continue reading