Survey on Seanad Reform*

The rejection of the Seanad-abolition referendum in 2013 left more questions unanswered than it asked. However, what was clear from discussion during the referendum is that the Seanad as-is is unsatisfactory to the consensus of people.
With the question still lingering, and numerous reform bills circulating the Oireachtas, the Government announced in December that it was setting up a working group to recommend options for Seanad reform. The group, chaired by Dr. Maurice Manning, comprises former senators and political scientists, including an editor of this website, Dr. Elaine Byrne.

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Event: What is the Culture of the Second Republic

This is a guest post by Oliver Moran, a member of the national committee of the ‘Second Republic’ political reform movement.  Image

“What do we want?” “Political Reform!” “When do we want it?” “NOW!” I loved this image from Elaine Byrne in a post to this website earlier this summer. It straight away had me wanting to create placards and take to the streets chanting.

But what do we want? Among a section of the thinking classes, the summer schools did something to bring great minds closer together. Now, what about the rest of us? What do I want? And what can I do (while I wait for the revolution) to make it happen?

Second Republic ( has been quietly working towards answering such question over the past few months. What we’ve done is to organise a facilitated, day-long discussion of around 100 people on the “culture of the Second Republic”.

These 100 people will be made up of a mix of invitees and the general public. A little under two thirds of these places have already been accounted for and we are now making a push to fill the last places. (And that’s where you come in!), you can register for the event here:

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The Start of Something New? Fianna Fáil’s Gender Equality Action Plan 2013-2018

By Claire McGing, Lecturer in Political Geography & Irish Research Council Scholar, NUI Maynooth


This week (July 30th), Fianna Fáil published the party’s new Gender Equality Action Plan 2013-2018. In a foreword by the party leader, Micheal Martin TD, it is noted that the under-representation of women in Irish politics “is a systematic problem, which requires radical action or nothing will change. It can only be tackled through a willingness to overturn long-established practices”.

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Crunch time approaches for the constitutional convention

For those of us who have been following the progress of Ireland’s constitutional convention, tomorrow promises to be an important date. According to the Dáil’s schedule of business, the Department of the Environment Community and Local Government will be providing a statement on the Convention’s first report tomorrow afternoon/evening.

While (to the best of my knowledge) no official statements have been issued by the Department or government in advance, The Irish Times reported last Wednesday that the government has accepted the Convention’s recommendation that a referendum be held on a proposal to reduce the voting age from 18 to 16. However, the same report went on to disclose that ‘the one major departure of Cabinet from the convention report is its rejection of its recommendation that ordinary citizens have a role in the nomination process in a presidential election’. Continue reading

Professional politicians and political reform. (Matt Wall)

A couple of interesting stories in the Irish media today caused me to re-consider the notion that political reform should be the exclusive domain of elected politicians. With their electoral mandates, experience of the day-to-day functioning of political institutions and (in Ireland, at least) their exclusive right to initiate constitutional change, our professional politicians certainly have more claim than most other social groups or organisations to take the lead on this issue.

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Some thoughts on ‘Inside the department’ – posted by Matt Wall

A link here to the RTE Player’s version of ‘Inside the Department’, a documentary that provides some interesting insights into the realities of governance in today’s Ireland. Among other things, it documents the difficulty of leading a department that you have verbally eviscerated in opposition (“malevolently dysfunctional” is a particularly good catchphrase).

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