Its a Man’s World: Mediations of Women and Politics on Prime Time

women-in-politics2Posted on behalf of Dr Anne O’Brien, National University of Ireland Maynooth. This blog presents the arguments from a paper published in Irish Political Studies by the author. Free access to the paper is available for the month of March at http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07907184.2014.922960#abstract

 

Media depictions of women in Irish politics are far from unproblematic. The mediated space for women on the Irish national broadcaster RTÉ’s flagship current affairs series Prime Time during General Election 2011 was structured on highly gendered terms. In the 11 episodes of election coverage, women’s engagement with politics was gendered through processes of numeric underrepresentation, gendered visual practices, the use of predominantly male sources and by structuring the content of women’s contribution to political debate. Continue reading

Government report on the diaspora snubs the diaspora, the Dáil and the Irish Constitutional Convention

The government launched its new diaspora policy last week – Global Irish – in which it applauded itself on its diaspora policy. Lots of warm words waft throughout the 57-page glossy document. But buried in the detail is a confirmation (on p. 21) that the government has chosen to ignore the recommendation of the Irish Constitutional Convention (ICC), which at its meeting in September 2013 proposed that emigrants and residents in Northern Ireland be given the right to vote in presidential elections (see here). Continue reading

Political Legitimacy in Ireland During Economic Crisis: Insights from the European Social Survey

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Posted on behalf of Dr Siobhan O’Sullivan, School of Applied Social Studies University College Cork, Dr Amy Healy, NUI Maynooth, and Prof Michael Breen, Faculty of Arts, Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick.

This blog presents the arguments from a paper published in Irish Political Studies by the authors. Free access to the paper is available for the month of March at http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07907184.2014.942645#abstract

The impact of the 2008 recession on political legitimacy in Ireland is still being felt. The collapse of the banking, construction and property sectors, and the 2010 EU/International Monetary Fund loan and attached austerity conditions resulted in a dramatic election in 2011. Support for Fianna Fáil, the party that had dominated political power in Ireland for decades, was decimated and Fine Gael and Labour subsequently formed a coalition government. The next general election will be held in 2016 and in the intervening years there has been widespread protest over austerity, cutbacks, and new taxes and charges. Continue reading

Enda, Joan, Micheal, Gerry: Who will be first to hang up that whip?

The (ab)use of parliamentary whips in the Dáil has been much in the news of late – most recently in the light of an internal survey of Fine Gael TDs by Deputy Eoghan Murphy that was reported in yesterday’s Irish Times (here).

Three-quarters of Fine Gael TDs (74%) favour a relaxation of the whip. That’s quite a lot of support for the proposition by anyone’s reckoning.

On this Blog site there have been many calls for serious engagement with parliamentary reform – moving beyond the tokenistic moves of the current government. The need is for proper parliamentary reform that rebalances the power between Dáil and government, making the government more accountable to the Dáil.

Relaxing the parliamentary whip, which is used more strictly here than in others parliaments in Europe, should be part of this process. But this is different from all the other proposed reforms (such as secret elections for the Ceann Comhairle and committee chairs, etc.) in one very important respect, and that is that there is no need for any change to the Constitution, no need for any new legislation, no need to alter the Dáil standing orders.

All that is needed for the parliamentary whip to be relaxed is for one of the party leaders to announce that they will make this change for their party. The first to make this move will be the one to signal that Dáil reform truly matters for their party. It would only be a matter of time before the other party leaders would be forced to follow suit.

So, which party leader will move first?

Survey on Seanad Reform*

The rejection of the Seanad-abolition referendum in 2013 left more questions unanswered than it asked. However, what was clear from discussion during the referendum is that the Seanad as-is is unsatisfactory to the consensus of people.
With the question still lingering, and numerous reform bills circulating the Oireachtas, the Government announced in December that it was setting up a working group to recommend options for Seanad reform. The group, chaired by Dr. Maurice Manning, comprises former senators and political scientists, including an editor of this website, Dr. Elaine Byrne.

Continue reading

Government U-turn on Votes at 16 shows its Contempt for the Dáil

Posted by David Farrell, January 1, 2015

When the government established the Irish Constitutional Convention it committed to providing a response to Dáil Éireann within four months of receipt of a Convention’s report. That this commitment is no longer being adhered to is a matter of some regret. But at least there have been responses to the first couple of reports by the Convention, and in some instances these have included firm commitments for action.

A case in point is the Convention’s recommendation to lower the voting age. Continue reading

A year in opinion polls: bad news for government, independents winning

ipi_2014

Irish Polling Indicator 2014. Shaded areas display 95% uncertainty estimates; line represents ‘best estimate’.

Support for Fine Gael and Labour has declined from a combined 38% early this year to 27.5% now. This represents the (joint) largest loss for the government parties in a calendar year since the coalition took office in 2011. In 2011 the coalition lost 10% of the vote, in 2012 7.5% and in 2013 1.5%. Fine Gael is now estimated at 22% (+/- 2% uncertainty margin), while Labour is just at 5.5% (+/- 1.5% uncertainty margin).

These figures are obtained from the Irish Polling Indicator, which combines four major Irish opinion polls into arguably the ‘best estimate’ of current parties’ support among the electorate. By combining polls we can better distinguish between real changes and random ‘noise’ due to the fact that opinion polls only survey a small sample of the population. Continue reading