At last, some real Dáil reform!

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Last week the Dáil passed a government motion to make three important changes to Standing Orders (in typical Dáil fashion with little debate). In summary, the changes that will be in operation from the start of the next Dáil session are:

  • A secret ballot to elect the Ceann Comhairle,
  • Use of d’Hondt formula to allocate Oireachtas committee chair positions proportionate to party size in the chamber (with the tradition remaining that the main opposition party controls the Public Accounts Committee), and
  • A requirement that twice a year the Taoiseach appear before the Working Group of Committee Chairs.

Continue reading

Final report card on the government’s reactions to the Irish Constitutional Convention

Last week — in the closing days of the 31st Dáil, and long past the agreed time for a government response — the government finally found some time to deal with the remaining reports of the Irish Constitutional Convention. This provides an opportunity for a final report card on the government’s reactions to the ICC, a body that it established in the first place. Continue reading

How should candidates for the position of Ceann Comhairle be nominated?

More hints are emerging about the government’s intentions relating to the election of the next Ceann Comhairle.  As reported in a recent post, the government is about to propose a change to Dáil standing orders so that the Ceann Comhairle of the next Dáil will be elected by a secret ballot of all members.  As a number of us have argued for some time, this is an important first step towards making future governments more accountable to the Dáil. (My colleagues and I will be setting out more detailed proposals on Dáil reform this coming Wednesday morning.)

But in order to make this reform meaningful careful thought also needs to be given to the nomination procedure, and here — unfortunately — the reports of government intentions are not promising.   Continue reading

Irish Citizens Decide: A Review of the Irish Convention on the Constitution

A free event to be held at UCD Newman House, November 13, 2015, 9.30am-1.00pm

To register, see here

Ireland’s Convention on the Constitution, which met from late 2012 to early 2014, was a world first both in allowing ordinary citizens a place in discussions about the future of our Constitution and also due to its role in the calling of the marriage referendum earlier this year.

This half-day seminar – which has been supported by the Department of the Taoiseach – will review the work, operation and outcomes of the Convention. The panelists will include former members and organisers of the Convention, the academic team who supported and monitored its operation, and journalists who provided critical coverage of it.

Programme

9.30 arrive and registration

9.45: Welcome and introduction: Prof Ken Carty (research director of the British Columbia citizens’ assembly) will make some opening remarks

10.00: Panel discussion on the Convention and its outcomes. Confirmed participants include: Tom Arnold (Chair of the Convention), Art O’Leary (Secretary), Dr Jane Suiter (DCU), Dearbhail McDonald (Legal Editor, Irish Independent), and Senator Katherine Zappone, Deirdre Donaghy and Aideen Larkin (three members of the Convention).

11.30: tea/coffee break

12.00: What can we learn from the Irish Constitutional Convention? A presentation of research findings by the academic team who supported the work of the Convention.

13.00: End of workshop. A free lunch will be provided.

Politicians ignore citizens at their peril

I’m currently reading José Saramago’s Seeing (a gift from a former student), which tells the story of how panic sets in among a city’s political classes after the vast bulk of the citizens cast a blank ballot in an election. It’s a great read, though I have to admit I thought the storyline a bit far-fetched. Even with all the problems of our political system are we ever likely to end up in a scenario where such large numbers of citizens are so angry that they simply refuse to engage in the political process at all? Granted, electoral turnout is in decline, but outside of the USA and Switzerland across most of the world’s democracies the bulk of citizens still vote.

Barcelona

To my mind Saramago’s image of a citizenry so turned off that they disengage completely from the political system just didn’t seem credible. That was until yesterday when I stood in the centre of Barcelona and witnessed Catalonia’s (now) annual independence day rally of September 11. Continue reading

Conference on Women in Leadership: North and South

This year’s annual conference of the UCD Institute for British-Irish Studies will be on the theme of women in leadership. It will take place on July 6 at the European Parliament’s office in Molesworth Street, Dublin. To register to attend (free registration) see here: http://www.ucd.ie/ibis/newsevents/latestnewsevents/ibisannualconference2015/

Programme:

9:45am Registration

9:50am Welcome by Prof David Farrell (IBIS, UCD)

10:00am Frances Fitzgerald, TD, Minister for Justice and Equality

10:30am Tea/Coffee Break

10:45am Women’s Leadership in Political and Public Life
Chair: Dr Melanie Hoewer (IBIS, UCD)
Prof Yvonne Galligan (Queens University Belfast)
Senator Ivana Bacik (Trinity College Dublin)
Fiona Buckley (University College Cork)
Professor Joan Ballantine (University of Ulster)

12:05pm Civic Leaders and the Leadership Pipeline
Chair: Prof Elizabeth Meehan (QUB/UCD)
Niamh Gallagher (Women for Election)
Kate McCullough (N.I. Women’s European Platform)
Louise Glennon (National Women’s Council of Ireland)
Grainne McVeigh (Women’s Inspiration Network)

1:30pm Lunch

2:30pm Political Leadership
Chair: Bronagh Hinds (DemocraShe/IBIS)
Paula Bradley, MLA (Democratic Unionist Party)
Caitriona Ruane, MLA (Sinn Féin)
Senator Averil Power
Senator Kathyrn Reilly (Sinn Féin)
Other speaker(s) TBC

4.15pm Conference Close