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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The Importance of Political Education – knowing left from right

A very interesting article in today’s Irish Times discusses whether Europe should focus on education in its engagement with Africa. The article argues that political education is vitally important for all sorts of social and political outputs:

‘Individual Africans need to become more politically sophisticated. It is hard to think of a political party in Africa which genuinely professes, let alone practises, a coherent political philosophy. Whereas parties in Europe espouse socialist, liberal or Christian democratic values, there is no indigenous African ideology beyond tribalism. Political parties are more often than not built around a commanding personality who offers tribal leadership and is rewarded with uncritical tribal loyalty’ .

The description of African politics rings some surprising bells for students of Irish politics.

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The Constitution Review Group report – a great (free) resource for Irish citizens

A topic that emerged rather unexpectedly from the We the Citizens event that I attended in June was the importance of civic education. At my table, the argument for focusing attention on this topic was that citizens need to be politically well-informed in order to understand the powers of political offices and the consequences of  their political decisions.

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Time to give our younger citizens a voice?

By David Farrell (June 21, 2010)

The following letter appeared in today’s Irish Times:

Madam, – On behalf of sixth class girls of Scoil Phádraic Cailíní, we would like to put forward some ideas about children having a say in political matters. After a debate in class we began to realise we would have to wait at least six or seven years before we can vote. One proposal we discussed in class to address this problem is having meetings with local TDs who could explain to us about the workings of local politics. We found that the majority of adults, politicians, etc, do not take us seriously simply because of our age; while we believe that we should be judged as individuals regardless of our age.

We also thought of introducing politics as an option in secondary school to develop our ideas and broaden our career options and understanding. This way we would be better qualified to make decisions in the future. …In conclusion, we believe that whatever age you are, your feelings and contributions should be respected. – Yours, etc,

MAEVE SWEENEY,
AMY KEARNS,
HAZEL O’SHEA,
Scoil Phádraic Cailíní

Why do we hold to the position that someone must be 18 before they can vote (which, if you’re unlucky about your birthday timing could mean waiting until your 22nd birthday before you actually get to vote)? Continue reading