Posted by Eoin O’Malley (7th January, 2013)
One of the most common complaints about democracy is that it shortens our rulers’ time horizons to an extent that damages our interests. If you are a hereditary absolute monarch, presumably you take a very long view, as you care about the inheritance you leave your children and grandchildren. But if you’re an elected politician you tend to think in terms of the next election.
Political scientists tend to assume that all politicians care about is re-election, and while this might be an oversimplification, it is hardly a controversial assumption. Then politicians think in four or five year cycles. Internationally there is some evidence, though it’s hardly overwhelming, Continue reading
Posted by Elaine Byrne
Below is an extended chapter outline of my book, Political Corruption in Ireland 1922-2010, A Crooked Harp? published by Manchester University Press, launched last week. Outline of my book. Buy it on Amazon. The book is about to enter its second print run. Thank you for all your support to date.
I am very grateful to the Irish political science and historical academic community for the time they contributed to this project, particularly Michael Marsh, Kevin Whelan, Sean McGraw, Maurice Manning, Stuart Gilman, Michael Gallagher, David McCullagh, Eoin O’Dell, Raj Chari, Peter Murtagh, Ronan Fanning, Felix Larkin, Patrick Holden, Myles Dungan, Maura Adshead, Tom Lodge, Gary Murphy, Eunan O’Halpin and Jac Hayden. The work of Transparency International Ireland, especially John Devitt, on the National Integrity Study was hugely constructive.
Towards a new definition
Towards a new definition – clientelism and brokerage
Towards a new definition – mediated corruption
2: Why so little corruption? 1900s-20s
Administrative legacies of British rule: conditions for Irish probity
Context: ministers and the £4.9:6 civil war restaurant bill
Unsung heroes: A civil service obsession with probity
From Nuala Haughey, Advocacy and Research Officer, Transparency International Ireland
As the Mahon report rightly states, corruption thrives in shadows and darkness. The twilight world of political finances – and the toxic nexus between business and political parties – is an obvious area where the disinfectant properties of sunlight are much needed.
The Mahon report echoes the Moriarty report in emphasising that disclosure must be the bedrock of all attempts to control corruption risks associated with money in politics.
Transparency International Ireland believes that detailed disclosure by political parties and candidates of assets, income and expenditures, together with adequate oversight and enforcement, is the starting point of any decent regulatory framework. Continue reading
By Eoin O’Malley (15 February, 2012)
SIPO last night released details for candidate election expenses – set out here. They provide useful information as to what candidates spent their money on in the campaign and how much each spent. They are less useful, however, for disclosing where each candidate’s money came from. We can see, for instance, that Gay Mitchell spent €527, 152, making him the highest spending candidate, but still well below the spending limit of €750,000. But we have no idea where the money came from, as none of his donations exceeded €634.87. Martin McGuinness spent just over €300k, but received a bit over €4,000 in disclose-able donations. Much of the money from these candidates will have been raise in the form of donations of less than €634. A lot of it may have come from their parties, and donations to the parties will be disclosed separately (this may benefit parties as a donor can give to a party and to a candidate used for the same campaign but not disclosed as such). And some of the money spent may have come in the form of bank loans. Continue reading
Posted by David Farrell (February 6, 2012)
Reports are circulating that the government is about to take steps to deal with Ireland’s terrible shortcomings on Freedom of Information and Whistleblowers legislation (to be blogged about when more is known). Both measures were promised in the Programme for Government and they are important steps on the road to making Irish government more open and transparent. But there is so much more that is needed, and high on the list should be ending the disgraceful practice of allowing our elected representatives to claim expenses without having to provide receipts – ‘unvouched expenses’ to use the jargon of Irish government. The Programme for Government also promised to end this practice, but so far there is no sign of any action. As was widely reported in the media last week, TDs (and Senators) have access to generous allowances to cover travel and accommodation. What was not reported on is just how many of them still continue to opt for unvouched expenses, which prevents any financial scrutiny of the claims. Continue reading
Posted by David Farrell (January 14, 2012)
Two areas greatly in need for reform are funding of politics and the operation of the Dáil – both in the news today (see here and here). In fairness to the government, some move has been made on both agendas (more generally, see here): legislation has been brought in relating to donations to political parties; and there have been changes to how the Dáil operates including the introduction of Friday sittings. Continue reading
By Iain McMenamin (30 March, 2011)
The Moriarty Tribunal’s report details an exchange between a politician and businessman, the like of which cannot easily be targeted by political reforms. Politicians have a demand for cash and can supply lucrative private goods to business, such as a mobile phone licence. The political demand for cash in Ireland is already limited compared to other countries such as the USA and Australia because paid broadcast advertising is not allowed. The Criminal Assets Bureau has great potential to recoup illicit cash from politicians. Continue reading
Posted by Elaine Byrne
The Moriarty Tribunal has published two reports today into Michael Lowry and Ben Dunne and Michael Lowry and Denis O’Brien
The Moriarty Tribunal has described Michael Lowry’s actions in influencing the awarding of the mobile phone licence as “disgraceful” and “insidious”.
The tribunal found that his influence was both direct, in his “disgraceful action in bringing a guillotine down on the work of the Project Group” and “indirect and insidious”, arising from his interaction with the chairman of the Project Group, and his intimation of his views on the second-ranked consortium and on how Esat Digifone’s financial problems could be met. Continue reading
Posted by Elaine Byrne
MY TEN PROPOSALS FOR POLITICAL REFORM
Detailed information on rationale for proposals contained in links within each proposal taken from my Irish Times columns. The reason for reform.
- Publish full political financial accounts online, greater powers for Standards Commission and ratify GRECO recommendations.
- Reform committee system, repeal Abbeylara decision and give committees renewed investigative powers.
- Rebalance relationship between executive and legislature as was intended in Article 28 of Constitution
- Meaningful open government with stronger FOI legislation, new whistleblower and lobbying legislation and public appointments board.
- Reform local government with revenue raising powers and reform planning powers
- Diverse representation in public life through a reformed Senand which would encompass island of Ireland and diaspora in public life
- Introduce gender quotas, lower voting age to 16, reform decision making process
- Change the electoral system
- Definition of Republic in constitution and statement of values
- Citizens assembly to be implemented
Post by David Farrell, November 8, 2010
Fine Gael’s latest policy document — in part a rehash of existing policies, in part some new ideas — is to be welcomed not least because it helps to keep reform on the policy agenda. While it’s launch may not have gone as smoothly as the leadership would have liked, the document does deserve close reading. It makes useful proposals in a range of areas, most notably:
- Making governmental processes more open and transparent
- Regulating lobbying
- Reducing the costs of government (again, Seanad abolition makes a showing)
- Civil service reform
- Reform of the budgetary process
This is a start: we can only hope that much more is to follow. Will the other parties follow suit and publish their plans for political reform?