Seanad Éireann: Lots to Reform

After the Irish people chose to retain the Seanad last year, the focus has now shifted to the question of reform. The government has announced its intention to reform the University franchise as allowed by the 1978 amendment to the Constitution. The main campaigning platform for Seanad retention, Democracy Matters, has embarked on a new campaign to argue for reform. The Royal Irish Academy recently held a symposium bringing experts on Bicameralism together to discuss the prospects for change.

The main focus of reform is on the extension of the franchise as envisaged in the Zappone-Quinn and Crown bills tabled last year. However David Farrell, in today’s Irish Times, points out Continue reading

Another set of milestones in the work of the Irish Constitutional Convention

In the week that’s in it….

Earlier today it was announced on the Irish Constitutional Convention’s website that the convention members have decided that the last two meetings of the convention shall be focused on Dáil reform and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. And reports suggest that this week we will have the formal government announcement that, following a recommendation by the constitutional convention, there will be a referendum on same-sex marriage in the lifetime of this government. Continue reading

Late changes to the Freedom of Information Bill 2013 – a cynical move

delayA recent post on The Story blog (see here) reveals the government’s cynical move to introduce last minute changes to the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill 2013 that will make FOI prohibitively expensive and therefore, in large part, unworkable. This (1) is contrary to what was promised and will put Ireland even more out of step with virtually all other countries, and (2) yet again demonstrates the need for real Dáil reform. Continue reading

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

Getting Reform Right for EU legislative oversight

committe3By Gavin Barrett (UCD School of Law) 30 September

Oireachtas reform is a hot topic at present. Many cite the need for the Oireachtas to do its European Union-related work better as an objective justifying retaining the Seanad. Others claim the Dáil alone can do such work and more besides.

It seems worthwhile asking, therefore: just how well is the Oireachtas doing its European Union-related scrutiny and legislative work at present? Continue reading

The Wrong Referendum?

Interested in how we can make our parliament fit for purpose?  This public discussion on Dáil reform is open to anyone who thinks our Dáil can do more for democracy.

The debate in the run up to the Seanad referendum has not provided sufficient space for debate on wider reform of our parliamentary structures.  Continue reading

Fianna Fáil’s proposals for Dáil reform

FF polSome weeks ago Fianna Fáil published a policy paper (for discussion) on Real Political Reform. Its focus is primarily on the Dáil and how it could be reformed. While the document appears to have attracted virtually no coverage whatsoever, it certainly warrants a read. I may not agree with all the proposals in this document, but there are some very interesting ones, for instance relating to: the need to elect the Ceann Comhairle, steps to free the Oireachtas from ‘complete’ government control, a new Oireachtas Office of Polity and Economic Oversight to provide expert support for TDs, more time for Continue reading

Dáil reform just doesn’t cut it

0007ebe6-642The Government’s planned reforms of the Dáil announced last week, while welcome, are underwhelming. There are some good proposals such as the routine use of pre-legislative scrutiny.

But much of the reform just tinkers with the details of when and where TDs will work. Working extra days or longer hours won’t achieve anything if the basic structures of the Dáil and its relationship with government are not addressed. Continue reading

Democracy and Other Matters

Dr Seán Patrick Donlan, School of Law, University of Limerick

Image

Predictably if depressingly, the debates around the Government referendum on the abolition of the Seanad have proven to be as ideological as intellectual, often more sophomoric than substantive. The vote honours a political promise initially made by parties and personalities now on both sides of the issue. Most of the membership of Fine Gael and the Labour Party, allied in this instance with strange bed-fellows Sinn Féin and the Socialist Party, want a YES vote. Fianna Fáil, who led coalition governments for the fourteen or so years before the debacle of the last general election only two years ago, are now campaigning for a NO result. Continue reading

Dáil reform announced by the government

Below I’ve pasted the announcement by the government for Dáil reform. One thing to note I suppose is that it is the government that does this and not the Dáil itself making its own rules. On the reforms themselves, the phrase ‘a day late and a dollar short’ comes to mind.

dail order

———————

Dáil Reform Note

The Programme for Government outlined an ambitious agenda for Dáil Reform to be introduced in a phased process over the lifetime of this Government.

The first phase of Dáil Reforms introduced in the summer of 2011 included: Continue reading