Post by David Farrell (October 17, 2011)
Due to great interest from various organisations and individuals abroad, The Constitutional Society in Iceland has obtained and published an independent English translation of The Constitutional Bill delivered by The Constitutional Council 29 July 2011. This can be found here.
Post by David Farrell (October 17)
This year’s PSAI takes place on October 21-23, in the Royal Irish Academy on the Friday and Newman House (Stephens Green) on the Saturday and Sunday. The over-arching theme of this year’s conference is “political reform in Ireland”. Details about the conference and how to register are available here. The PSAI is providing free access to the Friday sessions – see below for details. Continue reading
Post by David Farrell (September 29, 2011)
Today’s Irish Times reports on a speech yesterday by (former leader of the Senate) Maurice Manning to Senators. This results from the Senate’s initiative to invite ‘outsiders’ onto the floor of the chamber to speak frankly to them. And by the looks of things Dr Manning’s comments were frank enough (see here for the full article). He called on the Senate to make greater effort to demonstrate to the Irish people that it does have a role. If this Senate, unlike it’s predecessor, chooses to listen to this and follow his advice, are they too late? The signals from on high suggest that the referendum on the future of the Senate will happen? And the lust for political sacrifice seems as strong as ever.
Post by David Farrell (September 17, 2011)
Today’s Irish Times editorial draws attention to the preliminary findings from the Irish National Election Study (reported here) that Irish citizens appear to hold a very different view to most of our party leaders (and most prominent media commentators) about our single transferable vote electoral system. Continue reading
Post by David Farrell (September 13, 2011)
The Irish Times reports today (here) that the proposed constitutional amendment to reverse Abberylara — a move that was promised in the Programme for Government — was published yesterday. This will give Oireachtas committees the sort of scrutiny powers that are common in other democracies. The referendum on this will be held on October 27, the same day as the Presidential election. As the Irish Examiner reports (here), in presenting the amendment to the Dail, Minister Howlin said that, if passed, this would open the way for a parliamentary investigation of the banking crisis.
Post by David Farrell (August 16 2011)
Today I received the awful news that my mentor, colleague and friend, Professor Peter Mair had passed away while on one of his regular family holidays in Ireland. He will be known to many readers of this blog for his writings and speeches on Irish politics (for a recent posting, see here). A good example was his pin-dropping speech at this year’s MacGill Summer School – a perfectly pitched overview of what’s wrong with our political culture and what should change (he was the third speaker in this stream; see also here). Continue reading
Post by David Farrell (August 13, 2011)
As reported in earlier posts on this blog, this government has made some quite impressive progress on implementing the political reform proposals proposed in its Programme for Government. They’ve made a good start. But, arguably most of this has been the low-hanging fruit, the relatively easy targets. We’ve still to see the real meat of reform. Continue reading
Post by David Farrell (August 2, 2011)
Today’s Irish Independent has good coverage of the situation regarding expenses for TDs and Senators. The details of how the ‘unvouched’ system works is usefully explained here; and this article reports on just how much expense have been drawn down by certain members, showing that more than 20% of those TDs who ‘sign-in’ (i.e. as being actually ‘in the House’) missed a fifth of more of the votes that took place in the House at the time. As discussed in a previous post on this site (see here), the current system is wide open to abuse. Surely now is as good a time as any to urgently review the system and replace it with something more transparent.
Post by David Farrell (July 14 2011)
Ireland is not alone in considering a reduction in the number of parliamentarians. In the UK the size of the House of Commons is to reduce from 650 to 600. In the Netherlands there is debate over possibly reducing their parliament by a third from 150 members to just 100. Similar debates are ongoing in Austria, Denmark, Hungary and Iceland. There may well be other cases.
Whether this is due to a backlash against the politicians in a moment of economic crisis or simply a realisation that parliaments needn’t be so large given modern communications is hard to tell. But it does show a very new pattern to the inexorable growth of parliaments that has characterised the trends for all postwar democracies. And in this at least Ireland is part of the new trend.
Post by David Farrell (July 12, 2011)
It is not just political systems that need to be reformed from time to time, parties also need to go through a process of renewal if they’re to survive the trials and tribulations of electoral politics. As reported in today’s Irish Times, Fianna Fáil’s parliamentary party met yesterday to have a full and frank discussion about its future and about how it might change and adapt in the light of its recent electoral defeat. This is an entirely understandable move by the party leadership as it seeks to find a way back to electoral success in future elections. Continue reading