The Politics of Remembrance: Commemorating 1916

By Timothy J. White and Denis Marnane

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Assessing a significant anniversary of an important historical event such as commemorating 1916 is like a juggler keeping three balls in the air. There is the event itself, very likely not something about which there is consensus in terms of interpretation; there is the period of time between then and now in which the event is remembered, in this instance a century; and finally there is the present with its competing agendas for commemoration. These three: history, memory, and commemoration Continue reading

Stamping out corruption

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The RTÉ Prime Time Investigates report on corruption among some councillors broadcast last night inevitably draws a reaction of how do we rid a country of corruption. A simple answer might be to stop electing probably corrupt candidates. Charles Haughey continued to get elected even though rumours that he amassed his fortune corruptly were rife. Michael Lowry continues to get elected despite the findings of the Moriarty Tribunal, and if a fellow with the nickname ‘Stroke’ later gets convicted for corruption, surely his electors knew what they were doing.

Another reaction is to Continue reading

Referendums aren’t for the faint hearted

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The marriage referendum was an emotional roller-coaster. The reports of thousands taking boats and flights home to vote in the marriage referendum were heart-lifting. Ursula Halligan’s revelation in the last week of the marriage referendum campaign that she had hidden her sexuality from everyone, including at times herself was heart-breaking. She cited the referendum campaign as the reason she finally found the bravery to come out. We can only assume that she was relieved at the response and delighted at the result of the referendum. The referendum gave popular approval to a group that had felt isolated and afraid. Few who witnessed it will forget the happy, open and emotional atmosphere in Ireland on the weekend of the result.

But there’s a reason why Ireland is the first country in the world to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote. Continue reading

Irish equal marriage: it’s deliberation “wot won it”

John Parkinson

000aa181-942It’s a glorious morning for democrats and equal rights campaigners everywhere:  the Irish have voted nearly 2 to 1 to allow equal marriage rights regardless of sex.

However, this is a big day for deliberative democrats too, because in all the coverage about the referendum, what keeps getting forgotten is that this all started with a big, deliberative, citizens’ assembly: the Irish Constitutional Convention of January 2013.

The Constitutional Convention assembled 66 randomly selected citizens and 33 parliamentarians, including representatives of Northern Irish parties, to consider a range of issues put to them by the Houses of the Oireachtas including the electoral system, the voting age, the role of the president, participation of women in politics and public life more generally, removal of the offence of blasphemy, and equal marriage rights. The Convention refused to be tied to that brief, and made further recommendations about the presidency and the voting…

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A tale of two referendums

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On Friday the Irish will vote on two issues. Both are being sold as reforms, one a social reform, the other a political reform. Both can be said to have come from the the ‘People’ via the Constitutional Convention. If polls are even broadly accurate one will pass comfortably, the other will be easily defeated.

Why will the marriage referendum pass and the proposal to lower the age of eligibility for election to the office of the President be defeated? The major difference is the genesis of the proposals. The marriage referendum is a result of years of campaigning Continue reading

Is Miliband inadvertently helping Scottish independence?

Salmond Miliband Call The Tune (3)

There are now so many red lines laid down during the UK general election that forming a coalition is going to resemble a scene from Mission Impossible. SNP won’t support the Tories, UKIP won’t support Labour, Sinn Féin won’t support (or oppose) anyone,… Most of this is just electioneering. Even the one party that’s keeping options reasonably open – the LibDems – is giving mixed messages probably in the hope it can save a few seats by appealing to Tory or Labour supporters that a vote for them in key marginals could help keep Labour or the Tories out of power.

Labour on the other hand has firmly ruled out ANY deal with the SNP. Again this is electioneering. It’s simultaneously hoping that it can convince Scottish voters that a vote for Labour is the only way to ditch the Tories, and English voters that a vote for Labour won’t damage the Union.  Continue reading