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

The Irish Constitutional Convention: citizen-oriented political reform in action

Declaration of interest: I am one of the members of the academic team advising the constitutional convention on its work programme.

The Irish Constitutional Convention is most of the way through its work programme. Many journalists and other commentators were  critical of the Convention when it was launched. But among those who have witnessed its proceedings the sense is that it has been a success (see, for instance, Harry McGee’s piece).  The Convention’s first report (on voting age and the presidential term of office) was discussed in the Dáil in July, just before the summer recess (see the ministerial statement here) where the government committed to holding referendums on three of the four recommendations made by the Convention and for the fourth item (on giving citizens a say in the nomination of presidential candidates) to be referred to the Environment committee for further consideration — overall, then, a pretty positive reaction by government (so far). 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 Constitution Review Group report – a great (free) resource for Irish citizens

A topic that emerged rather unexpectedly from the We the Citizens event that I attended in June was the importance of civic education. At my table, the argument for focusing attention on this topic was that citizens need to be politically well-informed in order to understand the powers of political offices and the consequences of  their political decisions.

Continue reading

Reformcard first scores

From Jane Suiter

Reformcard – the political reform scorecard developed for election 2011 – has scored all the political parties. We evaluated each Parties’ proposals in five categories of political reform – Oireachtas reform, Electoral reform, Open Government reform, Public Sector reform and Local Government reform.  Details on each are set out below. 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

Final report of the Joint Committee on the Constitution launched today

David Farrell (July 22, 2010)

The Joint Committee launched its long-anticipated final report (relating to its deliberations over the electoral system) earlier today — running at over 200 pages, with 29 recommendations. There is lots to pick through, but for me the main headlines are the following:

  • The establishment of a Citizen’s Assembly to consider electoral reform
  • Centralizing and streamlining voter registration, with the use of our PPS numbers
  • Lowering voting age to 17 Continue reading

Time to give our younger citizens a voice?

By David Farrell (June 21, 2010)

The following letter appeared in today’s Irish Times:

Madam, – On behalf of sixth class girls of Scoil Phádraic Cailíní, we would like to put forward some ideas about children having a say in political matters. After a debate in class we began to realise we would have to wait at least six or seven years before we can vote. One proposal we discussed in class to address this problem is having meetings with local TDs who could explain to us about the workings of local politics. We found that the majority of adults, politicians, etc, do not take us seriously simply because of our age; while we believe that we should be judged as individuals regardless of our age.

We also thought of introducing politics as an option in secondary school to develop our ideas and broaden our career options and understanding. This way we would be better qualified to make decisions in the future. …In conclusion, we believe that whatever age you are, your feelings and contributions should be respected. – Yours, etc,

MAEVE SWEENEY,
AMY KEARNS,
HAZEL O’SHEA,
Scoil Phádraic Cailíní

Why do we hold to the position that someone must be 18 before they can vote (which, if you’re unlucky about your birthday timing could mean waiting until your 22nd birthday before you actually get to vote)? Continue reading