This is a guest post by Oliver Moran, a member of the national committee of the ‘Second Republic’ political reform movement.
“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 (www.2nd-republic.ie) 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: http://2ndrepublic.eventbrite.ie/
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”.
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
In this newly published work in Electoral Studies, I (along with two colleagues: Dr. Maria Laura Sudulich of EUI Florence and Professor David Farrell of University College Dublin) asked whether candidates who spent more money were more likely to succeed at European Parliament (EP) elections.
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.
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).
John Drennan’s Sindo article points to growing backbench opposition to the government’s proposed referendum on abolishing the Seanad. This development is unsurprising, given the tightness of electoral margins in Ireland’s political system and the personal investment of Oireachtas members in retaining their positions (although, as we all know, the pension’s not too bad if you do get the boot). However, the naked self-interest on display in this debate is enough to sicken even a seasoned observer of the venality of the Irish political class.
Posted by Matt Wall
A letter to the Irish Times from six former Senators represents a faltering start to the campaign against the government’s plans to abolish the Seanad. The six argue, as many others have and will, for reform rather than abolition. Sadly, their case is not helped by the farcical nature of many of the ‘debates’ that unfold with such regularity and futility in the current Seanad. Such debates are all-too-often nothing more than set pieces. They tend to be treated as such by their participants – rhetorical grandstanding and political point scoring are par for the course, and considered, constructive inputs are far more rare (though by no means absent).
Interesting article from Dan O’Brien in the Irish Times here, flagged up by Paul Hunt in a comment. Should Ministers also be TDs? A response that usually comes from the political system on this is that there is provision to nominate 2 ministers via the Seanad, though this very rarely happens. Would having a minister with a shred of economic training in the Finance portfolio have led to a better decision on the bank guarantee? Certainly, a little expertise couldn’t have hurt, the apocryphal image the late Minister Lenihan taking a crash course in economics while chewing raw garlic in David MacWilliams’ kitchen comes to mind.
Anyway, perhaps another issue that the Constitutional Convention should consider but won’t, unless it radically expands its agenda via the ’8th item’ (all other issues).
Really interesting debate on the government’s plans to involve citizens in Irish constitutional reform with contributions from: this site’s Elaine Byrne, Conor O’Mahony, a constitutional law expert from UCC, and Oliver Moran from the Second Republic civil society group. Labour’s Alex White gamely defending the government’s performance and plans to date – though he was batting on a sticky wicket on many specific points. I get the feeling that many Labour members are feeling rather shortchanged on their party’s campaign promise to completely re-write the Constitution by 2016. If you didn’t catch it last night, it’s well worth a watch on the TV3 player.