The ‘Spring Economic Statement’: yet another missed opportunity for real political reform

The Spring Economic Statement delivered today (see here) represents a very belated dipping of the toe in the water towards greater budgetary transparency by the government. We were promised this in 2011. The fact that it’s finally starting to happen four years later and coincidentally on the eve of the next election – is noteworthy. But at least it’s a start!

The cost of being more up front about budgetary plans is that the opposition is given an opportunity to criticize the government over its budgetary direction. To a degree this is all to be expected. But – not for the first time – the government has left itself unnecessarily vulnerable. And, again – not for the first time – the cause of this is lack of transparency. Continue reading

The Lobbying register: facilitating transparency or allowing policy influence ‘under the radar’?

By Nuala Haughey
Almost fifteen years after the idea was first proposed in a Labour Party private members’ Bill, Ireland is due to get a mandatory lobbying register.
The online database will capture information about the efforts of interest groups and professional lobbyists alike to influence policy and legislation. The database is provided for in the Registration of Lobbying Bill 2014 which is currently before the Oireachtas. Groups and individuals who lobby will have to register with the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) and file lobbying returns three times a year.
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FoI and other DPER reforms very welcome

As the Government renegotiates its priorities and reshuffles the Cabinet, it is an appropriate time to look back and assess the Government’s achievements under its political reform programme.

There has been a good deal of criticism at the slow pace of change and at the apparent absence of an appetite for reform among the Government with little meaningful reform to decrease executive dominance which is arguably among the greatest problems in our system. Continue reading

Why didn’t we riot?


This is the text of an article published in the Sunday Business Post 22nd December 2013

On the night of 6th December 2008 there were widespread protests against the government in Athens. In one middle class district in the centre of Athens, Exarcheia, there were confrontations with the police. Police were ordered to leave the district, but two policemen decided to stay, parked their car, and followed a group of youths. It’s not clear what happened next, but one of the policemen shot Alexandros Grigoropoulos, a 15 year-old boy from a wealthy family, who attended a private school. This sparked a wave of rioting throughout Greece that lasted a number of weeks.

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The progress of the Irish Constitutional Convention to date

ccvenDeclaration of interest: The author is the research director of the Irish Constitutional Convention

The Irish Constitutional Convention has almost completed its work.  At its most recent meeting it dealt with the last of the eight topics assigned to it by the Government. All that remains is for the Convention to use its remaining time to consider ‘Any other Amendments’ — the focus of its final meetings early in the New Year.

On its establishment, the Convention was roundly criticised, with much of the criticism focused on the limited (and admitedly pretty eclectic) range of topics that it was given to consider.  Over the course of its deliberations minds have changed and many who were critical of it are less so today (see here for an example).

This post updates on an earlier analysis (see here) of the progress of the Convention to date. Continue reading

John Perry, James Reilly & the introduction of a Register of Debt

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.

Fine Gael Leader Enda Kenny campaigning in Ballymote, Co. Sligo.

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