The Taoiseach and Tánaiste announced Dáil reform measures today – two and a half years after the 2011 election.
According to the Irish Times report by Stephen Collins, the measures will only come into force if the electorate gives a mandate to abolish the Seanad. At first glance the commitment to consult experts and civil society before the pre-legislative stage to develop legislation before Bills are drafted is positive and in line with the OECD’s 2008 recommendations in its report on Ireland.
Why are some of the announced measures contingent on the Seanad referendum passing?
Elaine Byrne, University of New South Wales: 4 September 2013
“10 reports in 75 years – NO reforms introduced to the Seanad” is Fine Gael’s slogan to abolish the Seanad.
That’s not true. The Seanad was reformed in 1947 with the Seanad Electoral (Panel Members) Act, 1947. A longer version of my Sunday Independent article will be published on Historyhub.ie later this week.
The Act addressed the areas which had been open to abuse during the 1938 and 1943 Seanad elections.
Elaine Byrne, University of New South Wales: 5 August 2013
Following from Dr Theresa Reidy’s excellent post on the need for a political reform “roadmap”, perhaps the political science community might once again engage in an updated version of the “reform scorecard” which was conducted prior to the 2011 general election.
The best roadmap right now is clarity.
Elaine Byrne, University of New South Wales: 23 July 2013
It is with no small irony that the Minister with responsibility for Small Business consented yesterday to a judgment for €2.47m against him and his wife at the Commercial Court over unpaid loans. John Perry’s long-running difficulties with Danske Bank raise underlying questions about Ireland’s ethics framework and the need to introduce a register of debt for politicians, as is the case in Canada.
The Irish public do not know the extent to which Ministers are in debt and the conflicts of interest, if any, that such debt may incur. John Perry is not the only Irish Minister who has experienced serious financial difficulties.
Judge Jed Rakoff gave a keynote address last week to a conference hosted by the Centre for Law, Markets and Regulation (CLMR) at the University of New South Wales.
The influential judge from the Southern District of New York spoke about the flawed rationale for non-prosecution of offences related to the Global Economic Crisis. Judge Rakoff explained, as far as he is aware, the Department of Justice in the US has taken the position that no crime was committed in connection with the events leading up to the financial crisis. Their public position is that they could not indict for three reasons, some of which may be familar to the Irish case.
Originally posted in the CLMR portal by Elaine Byrne (11 April, 2013)
The Salz Review into Barclays shares similar findings to the Honohan and the Regling and Watson Banking Inquiries. Salz attributed the extraordinary failings at Barclays to “corporate corruption” while the Irish approach has been to focus on “group think”.
“Princes and governments are far more dangerous than other elements within society,” warned Machiavelli. He was wrong as the Independent Review into Business Practices at Barclays, the latest in a series of reports into the corrosive nature of investment banking, makes abundantly clear.
The probe into the manipulation of benchmark interest rates at Libor ultimately resulted in a £290m million settlement by Barclays with US and British regulatory authorities in June 2012. In February 2013, Barclays surprised everyone when it revealed that it had set aside £1 billion to cover mis-selling as part of a damages bill for Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) and the cost of compensating small businesses, bringing its overall estimated legal liabilities to £2.6 billion.
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.
Posted by Elaine Byrne
The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform hosted a conference on lobbying in Farmleigh recently. These presentations were made available today.
- Regulation of lobbying policy proposals.
- The presentation by Lynn Morrison, Integrity Commissioner & Lobbyists Registrar of Ontario.
- The presentation by Áine Stapleton, Department of Public Expenditure & Reform.
- Minister Brendan Howlin’s opinion piece in the Irish Times on lobbying.
Concerns from the conference centred on -
- The definition of lobbying (chapter four of the policy proposals)
- The confidentiality of legal advice in the context of lobbying
- European Union voluntary register v mandatory register
- The potential administrative burden on organisations
- Tax implications for charities
- Issues around the ‘cooling off period’.
Posted by Elaine Byrne
Dr Niamh Hardiman of UCD wrote a piece yesterday for the Sunday Business Post on governance which is posted in full below. Her edited collected, Irish Governance In Crisis, published by Manchester University Press (2012) is launched this week. Niamh Hardiman teaches in UCD School of Politics and International Relations.
What are we changing exactly?
Irish politics is generally held to be in grave need of reform. The global economic crisis since 2008 showed how poorly prepared we were for any downturn, let alone anything on the scale of the crisis that has engulfed us. Our attempts to get to the bottom of successive scandals by setting up tribunals of inquiry have left us disillusioned. The party system itself, which seemed so remarkably durable throughout good times and bad, is now more fluid than it has been in a long time: Fianna Fáil’s once-dominant position has been overturned, and Sinn Féin and other parties are scrambling to fill the gap. But the current Fine Gael-Labour coalition controls a historically large majority, and has promised to undertake a new round of political reform. This is a good moment to pause and consider what exactly it is we wish to reform.