The Perfect Storm

Ben Tonra (posted by David Farrell, February 29 2012)

This referendum campaign will have a profoundly different dynamic to those that have gone before. The first point is that this is not an “EU Treaty”. As a result, and according to its own provisions, just 12 of the Eurozone member states need to ratify it before it comes into operation. Thus, unlike all previous European referenda, the rest of Europe does not depend on Irish ratification. We can say ‘no’ – 12 of the rest can say ‘yes’ and the treaty proceeds with Ireland simply left outside its provisions. Continue reading

Has Sinn Fein’s day come? Sunday Business Post-Red C (4th March) and Sunday Times-Behaviour & Attitudes poll (26th February 2012)

The Sunday Business Post-Red C (4th March) and Sunday Times-Behaviour & Attitudes (26th February) polls both point to a significant gain in Sinn Fein support relative to that party’s support levels in the previous such poll, with the party having achieved record high levels in the history of both polls. Continue reading

Research on Reasons Behind Voter Behaviour in the Oireachtas Inquiry Referendum 2011

From Jane Suiter

A group of us including Professor Michael Marsh, Dr Theresa Reidy and I along with Red C were commissioned to undertake research following the referendums in November with a view to learning lessons for future referendum campaigns. The report is here and the presentation given to the Oireachtas Committee on Investigations, Oversight and Petitions yesterday. here. Continue reading

Second Republic AGM March 3rd at Odessa Club

The civic group, Second Republic, who have been involved in campaigning for a Citizens’ Assembly for Political Reform, will hold their second AGM in Dublin on Saturday week.Time: 10:00-13:00 and 14:00-16:30 Date: Saturday, 3 March Venue: Odessa Club, 14 Dame Court, Dublin 2.

The AGM will happen very shortly after the Government will have announced the draft proposal for a Constitutional Convention. The group have already published their own proposal and briefed members of the Oireacthas on it (see http://www.2nd-republic.ie/proposal). The final agenda for the AGM will be published shortly but items that are expected to be on it include agreeing a broad campaign strategy in light of the Government’s proposal and whether the group should campaign for five key areas of reform. Attendance at either session is optional and advance registration is not required. For further information, contact info@2nd-republic.ie.

Constitutional Convention looks to include a citizen assembly

It is great to see that the Government is making good on its word to establish a Constitutional Convention, see report here. There are many parts of the 1937 Constitution which should be looked at from a political reform perspective. Some of these including reducing the voting age, allowing gay marriage and abolishing the Seanad are in the Programme for Government and are thus likely to form a major plank of the initiative despite there being other initiatives which some regular posters on here may like to see. Continue reading

Presidential election expenses released

By Eoin O’Malley (15 February, 2012)

SIPO last night released details for candidate election expenses – set out here. They provide useful information as to what candidates spent their money on in the campaign and how much each spent. They are less useful, however, for disclosing where each candidate’s money came from. We can see, for instance, that Gay Mitchell spent €527, 152, making him the highest spending candidate, but still well below the spending limit of €750,000. But we have no idea where the money came from, as none of his donations exceeded €634.87. Martin McGuinness  spent just over €300k,  but received a bit over €4,000 in disclose-able donations. Much of the money from these candidates will have been raise in the form of donations of less than €634. A lot of it may have come from their parties, and donations to the parties will be disclosed separately (this may benefit parties as a donor can give to a party and to a candidate used for the same campaign but not disclosed as such). And some of the money spent may have come in the form of bank loans.  Continue reading

One third of TDs don’t submit receipts for expenses

Posted by David Farrell (February 6, 2012)

Reports are circulating that the government is about to take steps to deal with Ireland’s terrible shortcomings on Freedom of Information and Whistleblowers legislation (to be blogged about when more is known). Both measures were promised in the Programme for Government and they are important steps on the road to making Irish government more open and transparent. But there is so much more that is needed, and high on the list should be ending the disgraceful practice of allowing our elected representatives to claim expenses without having to provide receipts – ‘unvouched expenses’ to use the jargon of Irish government. The Programme for Government also promised to end this practice, but so far there is no sign of any action. As was widely reported in the media last week, TDs (and Senators) have access to generous allowances to cover travel and accommodation. What was not reported on is just how many of them still continue to opt for unvouched expenses, which prevents any financial scrutiny of the claims. Continue reading

‘Forcing a referendum’ on the next EU treaty via Article 27

By Michael Gallagher

‘Independent TDs devise plan to force referendum’ reads the headline on the Irish Times site on 1 February. The cunning plan, it turns out, is that they would aim to use the provisions of Article 27 of the constitution to bring about a referendum on the recently-agreed EU treaty (or quasi-EU treaty) if the government decides that it does not have constitutional implications and hence need not be put to a referendum. Article 27 makes provision for a certain number of members of the Houses of the Oireachtas to petition the President not to sign a bill ‘on the ground that the Bill contains a proposal of such national importance that the will of the people thereon ought to be ascertained’ (27.1).

(Clarification 3 October 2013, in the context of the abolition of Article 27 being an aspect of the Seanad abolition debate: The previous paragraph was originally worded without sufficient care. It is worth emphasising that the President does NOT have the power to put a bill to a referendum, despite the apparently widespread belief that he or she does. The power that he or she has is the power not to sign a bill, if petitioned by the specified number of parliamentarians, unless such a bill has either been put to the people within eighteen months and not vetoed by them, as explained below, or has been passed by the Oireachtas again within eighteen months and following a general election. Even the Referendum Commission’s Guide to the Seanad referendum (p. 6) implies that the president does have the power to put bills to a referendum – ‘This possibility of the reference of Bills to the people by the President will be removed from the Constitution’ – but given that that the first paragraph of this post originally gave the same impression I am in no position to cast aspersions.) Continue reading