Bill to reduce the number of TDs

Posted by Elaine Byrne

Deputy Brendan Griffin (Kerry South) has introduced a proposed amendment to the constitution which seeks to –

  • Hold a referendum on reducing the Dail to 101 members
  • From 100 evenly populated constituencies  
  • Retain the PRSTV system. 

Deputy Griffin says the primary purpose of the amendment is to help “ensure that the attention of parliamentarians can be more focused on parliamentary/legislative/policy issues and not on competing locally with constituency rivals, both inside and outside their parties”. He believes it would also lead to a less congested Dail. He argues that, at present, “many Deputies are waiting for weeks to raise a matter on Topical Issues and very often do not get selected high enough in the order of oral questions to have their issue discussed using that avenue”.

The Bill can be found here.

Lessons from Children’s Referendum

It is still far too early to be definitive in the analysis of the result of the Children’s Referendum obviously research is needed in order to ascertain why turnout was so low and why people voted in the way that they did.

What we can say is that Saturday voting is unlikely to be the main cause of a low turnout as it serves to increase turnout in many other jurisdictions.

However in some way the 60 40 split could be seen to fit into the pattern of previous referendums as can be seen in the slides in this presentation that we delivered to the PSAI conference in Derry in October.

We also know that there is a strong and logical tendency to vote ‘no’ if you don’t know. And we know that there was a fairly low level of understanding for this referendum at least so far as it was measured by pre referendum polls.

There is a need particularly with large numbers of referendums in prospect over the coming years to seriously reexamine the framework in which we conduct these polls, If we are to properly derive real democratic benefits from referendums we need to ensure that people are as informed as possible. We should thus examine how to best resource both sides to make their arguments and have them heard. But with that right there must be an obligation to ensure that all arguments are factual and this could perhaps be policed by the Referendum Commission.


Theresa Reidy and Jane Suiter


RADICAL OR REDUNDANT? MINOR PARTIES IN IRISH POLITICS edited by Liam Weeks (UCC) and Alistair Clark (Newcastle University) (History Press Ireland, Dublin, 2012)

This book examines the fortunes of small political parties in Ireland and asks why no new party has yet emerged. While the type of minor political party in Ireland has varied, their fate, it seems, has not. Although some enjoy a brief time in the sun, termination would appear to be the long-term prospect for all minor parties. The usual pattern is a speedy ascent, an impact on the political system including a time in government, followed by a prolonged death. This book examines this pattern of evolution for the smaller parties in Irish politics.

As the Irish state has changed, so too have the types of parties that have emerged. With the first-time entry of the Greens into government in 2007, their wipe-out in 2011, the dissolution of the Progressive Democrats in 2009, and the failure of a new party to emerge despite the ongoing financial crisis, the time is ripe for this analysis.

Contributors include Des O’Malley, founder of the Progressive Democrats, Dan Boyle, former Green TD and Senator, Catherine Murphy TD, and a range of Ireland’s leading political scientists, including John Coakley, Gary Murphy, Kevin Rafter and Eoin O’Malley.

The book is available from Easons, most bookstores and Its RRP is €20.

New legislation to allow Oireachtas Inquiries

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has today outline his plans for to allow Oireachtas Inquires within the limits of the rejection of the constitutional referendum last year.
the RTE report is here.
The official announcement is here
The Bill will now be drafted so much is still to be played for, It will however be interesting to see at what stage it is given to the relevant committee to debate and decide. Clearly if this is to be about empowering the Oireachtas rather than the executive then very significant input must be given to Oireachtas Committee on Petitions and Inquiries.

Pilot Irish Data Website

On Friday, the Ireland Stat pilot website went live at
According to the DPER the objective of Ireland Stat is “to provide a whole-of-Government performance measurement system. At its simplest the website brings together data from a whole variety of different sources and sets them in the context of Department’s goals to show what Ireland has achieved, what it did in order to deliver on those goals, what it cost and how Ireland compares internationally.”
It is still very much at the beta stage and many of the categories are empty, nonetheless it looks as if it has the potential to be an interesting site, although much detail would have to be added.

There is a consultation process where suggestions may be used for future developments and improvements on the website.