Let’s think about the type of inquiry that will work before we set one up


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

UPDATE: Lobbying legislation

Posted by Elaine Byrne

Carl O’Brien’s report in today’s Irish Times suggests that the government will implement robust legislation on lobbying. This is very welcome. The policy proposals have yet to released but include:

  • Charities, professional bodies and commercial lobbyists will be on the register of lobbyists
  • A two-year cooling-off period for public servants or ministers before they can work in the private sector
  • A statutory register of lobbyists that would record the dates of all forms of communications
  • A sliding scale of sanctions for lobbyists who fail to disclose details of contacts with decision-makers

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is holding a conference at Farmleigh in July to introduce their Policy Paper on the Regulation of Lobbyists and to provide a forum for discussion. This follows up on a submission process conducted earlier this year.

My Sunday Independent column on lobbyists.

Lobbying legislation

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.

Mahon: transparency vital in future

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

Presidential election expenses released

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

The Government’s Reform Measures to Date: A Good Start but (Much) More to Do

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

The first 100 days

By Jane Suiter

The Government is now 100 days in office, a date by which it stated it would have achieved significant reforms. Eyes have of course  been on the economy but what is its record in political reform?

The Programme for Government promised reform in a number of area including parliamentary reform, a broader constitutional review and measures to reduce executive dominance/

Specifically it promised to put a number of issues to referendum and some of these have now been promised later this year or next year. But a few remain outstanding Continue reading

ReformCard: a tool to help voters decide

The editors and contributors behind polticalreform.ie have teamed with a large volunteer team of project managers, web designers and others to produce ReformCard a measurement tool to rank each party based on the quality of their policies on political reform.  We hope this will prove a critical instrument in informing the election 2011 debate. It provides the 25 proposals for political reform in Ireland which we believe provide the best possible combination to transform the political system and ensure it is fit for purpose in the 21st century. Continue reading

Gemma Hussey calls for a Single Issue Group for the promotion of women in Irish Politics

(uploaded by Fiona Buckley on behalf of the PSAI Gender Politics SG)

 At a conference in UCC in September (Moving in from the Margins: Women’s Political Representation in Ireland) organised by the PSAI Gender Politics Specialist Group and UCC’s Women’s Studies Programme, former Minister Gemma Hussey called for the establishment of an organisation to promote women in politics.  The following is the text from her address:-

It is now time for Irish women to cut to the chase and get down to business. The disgrace which is the absence of women from Dáil Éireann has to be addressed with energy, skill and yes – a ‘sparkling anger’ (to quote Margaret McCurtain, aka Sister Benvenuta speaking twenty five years ago!).

Continue reading

Labour Party’s political reform proposals

Posted by Elaine  Byrne

The Labour Party published a Private Members Motion yesterday which sets out 29 separate proposals for government and public administration reform. Labour

The proposals can be found here and cover a wide range of measures including cabinet confidentiality, freedom of information, whistleblowers legislation, political contributions and electoral spending limits, registration of lobbyists, Dail reform, the establishment of a Fiscal Advisory Council and new legislation to clarify the respective roles of Ministers and Departmental civil servants.

Labour were responsible for introducing the substantive Ethics Act and FOI reforms in the mid 1990s which is why it was surprising that they were a bit slow out of the blocks in re-claiming their reform clothes.

The PPM covers four pages but perhaps it should be accompanied by a more comprehensive document detailing the proposals?