Shortcomings in the Referendum Commission’s research on the two recent referenda


The Referendum Commission’s report on the Seanad and Court of Appeal referendums was published just before Christmas (and can be read here). There is also an accompanying powerpoint file (here) that purports to be a research report carried out for the Commission by Behaviour & Attitudes. (Sorry: but in my book, a ‘research report’ needs to be a bit more than a series of powerpoint slides, and certainly more than the simplistic descriptive analysis presented here.) Continue reading

Political parties, like other public bodies, need to have their accounts fully audited

The ongoing standoff between the Minister for the Environment and the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) is yet another signal of just how much this government has backtracked on its supposed commitment to open government.

At the heart of this issue is what level of party accounts should be made available for auditing and public scrutiny. The Minister (and in fairness, it seems all the other parties with him – I stand ready to be corrected on this ☺) is of the view that the legislation (the Electoral (Political Funding) Act, 2012) requires that the parties need to only audit their national accounts. SIPO disagrees. As a letter this week from the outgoing SIPO Chair (published on their website here) makes clear their legal advice, on the contrary, is that the auditing should also extend to the sub-national units (i.e. the party branches) of the parties’ organizations. Continue reading

Another set of milestones in the work of the Irish Constitutional Convention

In the week that’s in it….

Earlier today it was announced on the Irish Constitutional Convention’s website that the convention members have decided that the last two meetings of the convention shall be focused on Dáil reform and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. And reports suggest that this week we will have the formal government announcement that, following a recommendation by the constitutional convention, there will be a referendum on same-sex marriage in the lifetime of this government. Continue reading

The future is…. Fianna Fáil?

Colm-Keaveney-2-appHere’s a link to an op ed Shaun Bowler and I published in today’s Irish Times that makes use of the 2011 Irish National Election Study (INES) to examine the potential for a new political party in Ireland. The bottom line is that, based at least on this rich source of data, the potential is not great. The group of voters showing greatest inclination for change are those based at the centre who traditionally support Fianna Fáil. Plus ça change…?

Looking to 2016 – How stands the Republic?

Post on behalf of Joe Mulholland

The papers presented at the 2013 MacGill Summer School are now available to read (see here).

For several years now, and especially since the sudden and brutal fall of the Celtic Tiger, the MacGill School has focussed on reform of the institutions of the state – political, social and economic. With webcasting and the sterling work of our colleagues in broadcasting and the press, this message goes far beyond the conference hall. As has been pointed out many times at MacGill, radical reform of our politics and governance in general has to be a priority if we are not to have recurring crises of the kind we are living painfully through at this time and it has to come from the bottom up. Continue reading

A political system friendly to independents but not to new parties

jfoley11aEvery day there is some opinion piece or other speculating about the possibility of a new political party emerging in Ireland. Journalistic eyes are peeled, watching every movement, signal or nuance from the likes of Lucinda Creighton, Michael McDowell, or any other obvious contenders seen as most likely to lead the way in establishing a new party. But how our political system is set up makes life very difficult for ambitious individuals aspiring to establish a new party. By contrast, it’s very easy for ambitious individuals wanting to run for office as independents. Continue reading

Late changes to the Freedom of Information Bill 2013 – a cynical move

delayA recent post on The Story blog (see here) reveals the government’s cynical move to introduce last minute changes to the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill 2013 that will make FOI prohibitively expensive and therefore, in large part, unworkable. This (1) is contrary to what was promised and will put Ireland even more out of step with virtually all other countries, and (2) yet again demonstrates the need for real Dáil reform. Continue reading