Why didn’t we riot?

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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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Was Michael D. Higgins elected for his policy views?

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President Michael D. Higgins has caused some controversy (though this might be too strong a word) for his more outspoken comments on some issues. In a speech he gave in DCU in September he was highly critical of neo-liberalism as an ideology and economics as a discipline. We should hardly be surprised. Most know where he stands on these issues, and given that, President Higgins has probably been restrained.

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“Free to those that can afford it, very expensive to those that can’t”* Creating the Luxury of Freedom of Information

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The underpinning values in freedom of information are openness and transparency. They can be regarded separately as openness represents an individuals right to access information and transparency representing a persons ability to scrutinize the decision making process. The need for adequate freedom of information provisions was summed up the Australian Senate Standing Committee on Legislation and Constitutional Affairs on the Freedom of Information Bill 1978. Continue reading

Explaining media coverage of the 2011 election

Papers82There is an assumption in the literature on the media coverage of elections that it is being Americanised or ‘dumbed down’. Election coverage can be thought to vary on whether substantive policy issues are discussed or if the coverage centres on the likely result and/ or the parties’ electoral strategies. For instance in the last few days of the 2012 US Presidential election 20 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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Parliamentary privilege isn’t meant to be for this

Posted by Eoin O’Malley (12 March 2013)

mingThe ‘sort-of’ revelation on Twitter that Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan may have used his Oireachtas privilege have penalty points wiped juxtaposes nicely with the eight month sentence imposed on the former UK cabinet minister, Chris Huhne, for perverting the course of justice in a case that started from misallocated penalty points. Huhne’s case is worthy of a soap opera, but Ming’s may be the comic relief in a tragedy. It shows a profound misunderstanding of the purpose of parliamentary privilege.

Ireland’s constitution gives members of the Oireachtas parliamentary privilege through Article 15.13: Continue reading

Damn lies and statistics: How do two polls give such divergent results?

Posted by Eoin O’Malley (21 February, 2013)

A poll released today by the Pro-Life Campaign seeks to ‘challenge the notion that there is broad middle ground support for abortion in Ireland.’ This polls claims to show that two-thirds of Irish people want ‘legal protection of the unborn’ and suggests that this means Irish people are against legalised abortions. This should surprise some as it follows on from a IpsosMRBI poll in the Irish Times recently which showed a substantial majority in favour of legalised abortions in a variety of circumstances. Continue reading