Will independents bring ‘real change’?

Posted by Eoin O’Malley, Dublin City University

Image

Parties are increasingly unpopular. The recently released European Social Survey (wave 6) shows parties are distrusted by 85% of Irish people (compared with parliament and the government distrusted by 75% and 77% respectively).  Ireland isn’t that unusual; Most countries show a large majority lacking trust in parties. Danes, Swedes and Austrian are the most trustful of politics, but even in those places just about a third of respondents claim to trust parties.

This might not matter much. Continue reading

Local Elections 2014

ballot box

Posted on behalf of Dr Aodh Quinlivan, UCC

This blog builds upon a 2009 Local Election Report (co-authored with Dr Liam Weeks). The report is available to access free, online, in a virtual issue of Irish Political Studies on Local Government and European Parliament elections  http://explore.tandfonline.com/page/pgas/fips_elections

Local elections in Ireland are regarded as somewhat of a mystery. A major reason for this is because the local government system itself and its structures are perceived to be complex. If people do not understand the system or what local authorities actually do, it is not surprising that local elections are either seen as unimportant or irrelevant. This apathy is shared by large portions of the media who opt to analyse local elections merely in the context of what they mean for national politics and the next general election.

On 23 May we will have our 24th set of county and city council local elections since the ‘modern’ system of local government was introduced with the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898. These elections have taken place in 1899, 1902, 1905, 1908, 1911, 1914, 1920, 1925, 1928, 1934, 1942, 1945, 1950, 1955, 1960, 1967, 1974, 1979, 1985, 1991, 1999, 2004 and 2009. Continue reading

Three Key Issues Relating to Local Government Reform in Ireland

Image

Dr Proinnsias Breathnach, NUI Maynooth

Chris van Egeraat and Seán Ó Ríordáin have made far too much of the Local Government Bill, which is a very weak and ineffectual piece of legislation derived, in turn, from the foregoing Action Programme for Effective Local Government, an appallingly inept document which goes nowhere near doing what it says on the tin.  To discuss the Local Government Bill on its own terms is to allow ourselves to become enmeshed in minor issues of the kind which have dominated the so-called “debate” on local government reform in Ireland over the last 50 years.  This plays right into the hands of those powerful and entrenched forces which are profoundly opposed to meaningful reform in this area. Continue reading

Democracy in the planning process

Image

Dr. Deiric Ó Broin, NorDubCo

I present the third opinion piece in context of the debate on Local Government Reform, organised by the Regional Studies Association – Irish Branch.

The package of proposals contained in the Local Government Bill, 2013, the Report of the Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee and the Final Report of the Local Government/Local Development Alignment Steering Group, taken in conjunction with the introduction of the Residential Property Tax and the incorporation of enterprise development bodies in local government represent the most significant set of local government reforms articulated by an Irish government since the introduction of the city/county manager system.

Continue reading

Enabling Community-Led Local Development

Image

Brendan O’Keeffe (Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick)

A reformed local government system in Ireland has a key role to play in promoting territorial development and competitiveness.  Earlier this year, Ireland’s LEADER Partnerships undertook extensive and in-depth consultation with citizens in several counties.  As a result, and following liaison with the European Commission, OECD and academic experts, they advanced a policy document that detailed how both local government and local development in Ireland should be strengthened and mutually re-enforcing.  This policy position paper has been endorsed by several public representatives and was formally launched by Ireland South MEP, Phil Prendergast in June. Continue reading