Posted by Eoin O’Malley (15 May)
A new Seanad reform bill was introduced in the Seanad today by Senators Katherine Zappone and Fergal Quinn. It is available here. The main point of the bill are that it should move to a reformed house with new powers, but without requiring constitutional change. It proposed elections by universal suffrage, to close the democratic deficit, with non-geographic constituencies (on these see an interesting post by Michael Gallagher here). The other reforms are to allow the Seanad conduct public inquiries, to monitor secondary legislation (Statutory Instruments), Continue reading
John Drennan’s Sindo article points to growing backbench opposition to the government’s proposed referendum on abolishing the Seanad. This development is unsurprising, given the tightness of electoral margins in Ireland’s political system and the personal investment of Oireachtas members in retaining their positions (although, as we all know, the pension’s not too bad if you do get the boot). However, the naked self-interest on display in this debate is enough to sicken even a seasoned observer of the venality of the Irish political class.
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.
From Jane Suiter
A group of us including Professor Michael Marsh, Dr Theresa Reidy and I along with Red C were commissioned to undertake research following the referendums in November with a view to learning lessons for future referendum campaigns. The report is here and the presentation given to the Oireachtas Committee on Investigations, Oversight and Petitions yesterday. here. Continue reading
Post by David Farrell (September 29, 2011)
Today’s Irish Times reports on a speech yesterday by (former leader of the Senate) Maurice Manning to Senators. This results from the Senate’s initiative to invite ‘outsiders’ onto the floor of the chamber to speak frankly to them. And by the looks of things Dr Manning’s comments were frank enough (see here for the full article). He called on the Senate to make greater effort to demonstrate to the Irish people that it does have a role. If this Senate, unlike it’s predecessor, chooses to listen to this and follow his advice, are they too late? The signals from on high suggest that the referendum on the future of the Senate will happen? And the lust for political sacrifice seems as strong as ever.
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
Joanna Tuffy TD argues that cutting the number of TDs and indeed abolishing the Seanad are not political reform. I think that many here would be inclined to agree with her. If these “reforms” are to go ahead they should be accompanied with a decentralisation of the power of the executive. But surely Deputy Tuffy should go further and demand some real power for committees for example. That would also serve to undermine accusations that TDs arguing against a cut in their numbers are merely trying to ring fence their own positions. I am still unsure why Irish TDs are happy that they only get sight of Bills once they have been passed by the House. Why not push for relevant Bills to go to committees at the earliest stage? It would make for a more interesting job and would mean devolving some of the power that has been increasingly centralised in the executive over the short history of our state.
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
By Jane Suiter
Political reform ran a poll here for a number of weeks, it has taken a little time to report the findings for which I apologise. We received some 485 responses to the poll with people from 16 to 65 responding from most counties across the country. These are of course not nationally representative but are probably representative of those that read this site. Some of the results make for interesting reading with unsurprisingly an appetite for political reform, some of it quite radical. Continue reading