The first annual report of the highly influential Electoral Integrity Project has just been published (see here). Professor Pippa Norris and her colleagues have carried out an extensive survey of the electoral process across the world’s democracies over the past few years. Ireland’s last election (2011) preceded this project so it was not included on this occasion, but as the work of this project continues, our next election will come under scrutiny. Continue reading
The ongoing standoff between the Minister for the Environment and the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) is yet another signal of just how much this government has backtracked on its supposed commitment to open government.
At the heart of this issue is what level of party accounts should be made available for auditing and public scrutiny. The Minister (and in fairness, it seems all the other parties with him – I stand ready to be corrected on this ☺) is of the view that the legislation (the Electoral (Political Funding) Act, 2012) requires that the parties need to only audit their national accounts. SIPO disagrees. As a letter this week from the outgoing SIPO Chair (published on their website here) makes clear their legal advice, on the contrary, is that the auditing should also extend to the sub-national units (i.e. the party branches) of the parties’ organizations. Continue reading
Every day there is some opinion piece or other speculating about the possibility of a new political party emerging in Ireland. Journalistic eyes are peeled, watching every movement, signal or nuance from the likes of Lucinda Creighton, Michael McDowell, or any other obvious contenders seen as most likely to lead the way in establishing a new party. But how our political system is set up makes life very difficult for ambitious individuals aspiring to establish a new party. By contrast, it’s very easy for ambitious individuals wanting to run for office as independents. Continue reading
At a conference in the IPA recently there was some talk about changes in how ministers and civil servants are held accountable, and for what they are held accountable. The traditional doctrine of ministerial responsibility, set out in the Ministers and Secretaries Act 1924, hold the minister to be the Corporation Sole, so s/he is legally responsible for every action of the department. This is obviously not very realistic and few would subscribe to the view of the UK Health Secretary Aneurin Bevan that the sound of a bedpan falling in his local hospital should reverberate in the Palace of Westminster.
The current calls for some form of inquiry into the economic collapse and the government’s response to it are understandable in the light of the Anglo tapes. While they probably didn’t reveal much that we hadn’t already suspected, their tone was abhorrent to most. What is not reasonable is that we concentrate our blame on the banks for the debacle. They were probably doing what any interest group does when looking for government assistance – they bluff. Continue reading
3-6 pm, Thursday April 25th 2013
Institute of Bankers, 1 North Wall Quay, Dublin 1
Sponsored by NUI Maynooth (NIRSA/ Sociology) and UCD Geary Institute Continue reading
Posted by Elaine Byrne
The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform are currently engaged in a process of consultation in order to introduce a regulatory system for lobbying in Ireland. Department officials will publish a policy paper on the process in May and the anticipated legislation is due early next year. I believe that this is one of the most significant political reform initiatives of this government. The attempt to legislate for influence is not an easy task. The approach by Minister Brendan Howlin and his team is very welcome and perhaps a model in how consultation and legislation should be introduced in the future.
I met with the Department’s civil servants last week to discuss my submission on lobbying. My colleagues Gary Murphy and Raj Chari have been very much involved since the early stages of the process. The Department has received over 50 submissions from different organisations and interests.
Key issues for lobbying regulation
- -How ambitious should the legislation be? Would an over regulated system actually prove counterproductive because of cost issues and the administrative burden on those engaged in lobbying?
- -How do you define *lobbyist*? Transparency International argues that the term lobbyist is misleading and too narrowly defined. Is the President of the IFA, for example, a lobbyist although he is not paid?
- -What exactly should be regulated?
- -How influential are PR firms in the lobbying process?
Any observations on these or other matters related to lobbyists are greatly appreciated. I hope to write on this shortly.
Ken McDonagh 13 April 2011
Vincent Browne has a new bugbear – party finance. In today’s Irish Times he writes: ‘The only reason anyone would give money to a political party is because they expect to get something in return’
He goes on to link the problem of private funding for political parties to the disproportionate representation of the views of the very wealthy, (to read the full article click here) however his proposed solution is neither fair nor practical.
This is due to the fact that Vincent has misidentified the problem, the transactional nature of political support is not the core of the issue – namely the willingness to donate in order to have your view represented, essentially this is the same logic as voting – the problem is the relative difference in power and influence between the very wealthy and the ordinary citizens produced by the ability of the former to use their substantial financial resources to influence policy makers. Continue reading
The most discussed budget in decades in due today. The budget is the main feature in the Finance calendar in any country but this year, the Irish budget is likely to be the centre of international attention. Budget 2011 will be exceptional for a variety of reasons. It will be the first budget presented to the Dáil, subject to direct monitoring, under the terms of the EU and IMF bailout. In fact, the bailout is dependent upon the budget being passed. The ongoing crisis in the Euro area means that international markets, governments and institutions will all be observing the outcomes of the budget.
Posted by Michael Breen (16 November 2011)
The international media’s spotlight has been firmly on Ireland over the last few days. The talk of the town is of an IMF or European-led bailout. This raises several interesting questions. Why now, with the state apparently funded until June 2011? What sort of terms would be offered in the event of a bailout? And, most importantly what would this mean for Ireland’s economic sovereignty? Continue reading