Posted by Matt Wall
A letter to the Irish Times from six former Senators represents a faltering start to the campaign against the government’s plans to abolish the Seanad. The six argue, as many others have and will, for reform rather than abolition. Sadly, their case is not helped by the farcical nature of many of the ‘debates’ that unfold with such regularity and futility in the current Seanad. Such debates are all-too-often nothing more than set pieces. They tend to be treated as such by their participants – rhetorical grandstanding and political point scoring are par for the course, and considered, constructive inputs are far more rare (though by no means absent).
So I recently learned that The Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Bill 2011 will soon be passed as law. Looks like some really progressive stuff, especially when you look at the ongoing hyper monetization of politics that is taking place in the usa. I can’t wait to see the parties publish comprehensive accounts, which should let the media, academia, and general public keep a closer eye on how we fund our politics.
Here is a link to the ‘The Week in Politics’ coverage of the political reform debate on RTE last night – Brian Dowling’s report touches on a lot of key themes, and much of the discussion explores important ideas. Definitely worth a watch IMO. I’ve posted some reactions of my own below…
I just finished reading an article in today’s IT on the constitutional convention. In the article, Dr. Conor O’Mahony claims that the government’s plans on the constitutional convention will be little more than a ‘charade’, indeed, Dr. O’Mahony goes on to describe the planned convention as a ‘joke’. I have to agree with most of Dr. O’Mahony’s assertions, it is no coincidence that they overlap considerably with my own assessment of the government’s plans - I think that the shortcomings of these proposals would be clear to anyone who cared to read them.
The government’s recently unveiled proposals on the forthcoming constitutional convention make for disappointing reading for those who, like this author, had hoped that such a body could facilitate profound political reform in Ireland.
The proposed convention, to be comprised of a chair, 66 members of the public and 33 elected politicians, is hobbled by a narrow and disjointed pre-set agenda, and limited to a strictly advisory role.
Post by David Farrell (September 17, 2011)
Today’s Irish Times editorial draws attention to the preliminary findings from the Irish National Election Study (reported here) that Irish citizens appear to hold a very different view to most of our party leaders (and most prominent media commentators) about our single transferable vote electoral system. Continue reading
Last week The Irish Times
published the late Peter Mair’s excellent speech at MacGill this year (about 30 minutes in).
Mair argued that the problem in Ireland is that we don’t respect our State. We have never respected our State. We have never had a sense of belonging for our State. If anything we have viewed the State as the enemy, as an oppressor, as something not to be trusted but to be taken advantage of.
“That’s the culture of the cute hoors, the strokes, you get away with it and getting away with it against the State is getting away with something which is not us and doesn’t belong to us but belongs somewhere out there and it is not ours”
Interestingly, Mair had a number of solutions. Perhaps controversially in his sights was the electoral system or what he called amoral localism – which is that you do anything you can to benefit your locality and your constituency and your district, and your TD will do anything he can to benefit your locality and your district and your constituency and, in a sense, damn everything else
The result he says is that we have been so busy as citizens in ensuring the representation of our own interests and those of our constituencies that we have lost sight of the broader, collective interest, ….. We exert great control over our TDs [but] have never sought to exert any control over our governments. This is not a new argument for readers of this blog but his solutions are worth considering.
1.Reform the electoral system
2. Change the Dáil. End the quiescence
3. Give real power to local government.
I recall studying the Enlightenment in West European history and being fascinated by Diderot’s Encyclopédie project. It was an amazing effort and achievement in its own right, but can really only be understood in the broader context of Enlightement goals and values, perhaps best explained by Kant in his essay: ‘An Answer to the Question: “What is Enlightenment?”
Kant explains his thesis in an admirably succint manner in the essay’s first line: ‘Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity’. Knowledge and reason can allow us to take greater control of our own individual and collective destiny – rather than remaining passive and fearful. However, one’s capacity to learn is limited by available resources, and the media is often skewed in its presentation of the political world.
Post by David Farrell (August 13, 2011)
As reported in earlier posts on this blog, this government has made some quite impressive progress on implementing the political reform proposals proposed in its Programme for Government. They’ve made a good start. But, arguably most of this has been the low-hanging fruit, the relatively easy targets. We’ve still to see the real meat of reform. Continue reading
Post by David Farrell (July 11 2011)
A re-reading of the Coalition Government’s Programme for Government is timely. It’s worth taking stock of the political reform proposals that have been implemented, those that are on going, and those that are (firmly) promised. There has been some undoubted progress, but a lot – a lot – still needs to be done. Continue reading