FoI and other DPER reforms very welcome

As the Government renegotiates its priorities and reshuffles the Cabinet, it is an appropriate time to look back and assess the Government’s achievements under its political reform programme.

There has been a good deal of criticism at the slow pace of change and at the apparent absence of an appetite for reform among the Government with little meaningful reform to decrease executive dominance which is arguably among the greatest problems in our system. Continue reading

Reforming the Oireachtas as an Oversight and Accountability Mechanism for Human Rights

CommitteeRoom_4_800Post by Kirsten Roberts*

In democracies, parliaments are crucial in balancing the use of power by the executive and overseeing the functioning of the State. In Ireland this balance is off – with the executive and civil service seemingly unwilling to cede any real control to oversight or accountability mechanisms. While the Oireachtas has been prominent as perhaps the only body able to publicly consider many of the difficult issues that have arisen this year – from whistleblowers to the charities sector – its role as an oversight mechanism is not being fully realised. Continue reading

Independents take top spot in Irish Polling Indicator

Post by Tom Louwerse (Trinity College, Dublin)

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Independents and smaller parties have seen their electoral support increased over the last two months. They now top the Irish Polling Indicator, which combines all national election polls in to one estimate of party support. Independents now score between 25.7% and 31%, followed by Sinn Féin at 21.5-25.7% and Fine Gael at 20.1%-24.2%. The largest government party has been on a downward slope in the polls since mid-February, while Continue reading

“When the hurly-burly’s done…”: Constituency-level analyses of the post-election polls

Adrian Kavanagh, 12th June 2014 (with subsequent updates)

The local and European elections brought a (probably quite welcome!) respite to the spate of opinion polls that had appeared in the run up to the May 23rd electoral contests, but June 12th saw the publication of one of the first post-elections opinion polls – the Paddy Power-Red C poll of June 12th 2014, which estimates party support levels as follows: Fine Gael 22%, Sinn Fein 22%, Fianna Fail 18%, Labour Party 4%, Green Party 2%, Independents and Others 32%. My constituency-level analysis of these poll figures estimates that party seat levels, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election, would be as follows: Fianna Fail 32, Fine Gael 40, Sinn Fein 37, Labour 0, Green Party 1, Independents and Others 48. This was preceded by the Irish Independent-Millward Brown poll of June 7th 2014, which estimates party support levels as follows: Sinn Fein 26%, Fine Gael 20%, Fianna Fail 20%, Labour Party 5%, Green Party 2%, Independents and Others 27%. My constituency-level analysis of these poll figures estimates that party seat levels, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election, would be as follows: Fianna Fail 36, Fine Gael 38, Sinn Fein 43, Labour 0, Green Party 1, Independents and Others 40. The latest in the series of Red C polls, the Sunday Business Post-Red C poll of June 29th 2014, estimates party support levels as follows (and relative to the previous Sunday Business Post-Red C poll): Fine Gael 25% (NC), Sinn Fein 22% (up 4%), Fianna Fail 18% (down 3%), Labour Party 7% (down 4%), Independents, Green Party and Others 28% (up 3%). My constituency-level analysis of these poll figures estimates that party seat levels, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election, would be as follows: Fianna Fail 33, Fine Gael 46, Sinn Fein 34, Labour 1, Independents, Green Party and Others 44.  The latest in the series of Millward-Brown polls, the Sunday Independent-Millward Brown poll of August 3rd 2014, estimates party support levels as follows (and relative to the previous Sunday Business Post-Red C poll): Fine Gael 25%, Sinn Fein 25%, Fianna Fail 20%, Labour Party 7%, Green Party 1%, Independents and Others 23%. My constituency-level analysis of these poll figures estimates that party seat levels, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election, would be as follows: Fianna Fail 35, Fine Gael 47, Sinn Fein 42, Labour 2, Green Party 0, Independents and Others 28Continue reading

UCD GARRET FITZGERALD SUMMER SCHOOL: Reforming The Republic’s Democratic Institutions 20 and 21 June 2014

Location: FitzGerald Debating Chamber, Student Centre, UCD

What kind of institutions can be framed to deal with the challenges of the 21st century, while maintaining the spirit of a republic? The structure of political institutions and the quality of public and civic life were long-standing concerns for Dr Garret FitzGerald. The third annual UCD Garret FitzGerald School will address issues concerning the reform of democratic institutions in Ireland, which has recently gained momentum from the Constitutional Convention, debates on the role of the Senate, and possibilities of far-reaching changes in institutions ranging from the judiciary and courts to the educational system.
The Opening Keynote, on The Infrastructure of Democracy, by Professor Philip Pettit of Princeton University is at 6 pm on Friday 20 June. Ruairi Quinn TD, Minister for Education and Skills, will respond, followed by a reception.

On Saturday, 21 June 2014 there will be sessions on

  • Reforming Institutions: Politics. Speakers: Dr. Niamh Hardiman and Professor John Coakley, School of Politics and International Relations, UCD
  • Reforming Institutions: The Law. Speakers: Hon. Mr. Justice John MacMenamin, Supreme Court and Dr. Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, UCD
  • Reforming Institutions: Education. Speakers: Dr. Eoin Daly, School of Law, NUI Galway and Dr. Iseult Honohan, School of Politics and International Relations, UCD

To register please RSVP to anne.murphy@ucd.ie as soon as possible.

Posted on behalf of the Royal Irish Academy

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Royal Irish Academy Discourse: ‘International Human Rights and Democratic Public Ethics’ by Professor Richard Bellamy

University of Limerick, 6 June 2014 at 18:00

We are pleased to invite you to attend a Royal Irish Academy Discourse by Professor Richard Bellamy (European University Institute), with a response by the President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins, entitled ‘International Human Rights and Democratic Public Ethics’. This Discourse will take place in the Graduate Entry Medical School Lecture Theatre at the University of Limerick, on 6 June at 18:00. This event is being held under the auspices of the President of Ireland Ethics Initiative and in association with the Limerick City of Culture 2014.
For any queries regarding this Discourse please contact discourse@ria.ie
Attendance is free but early booking is advised.

The Quiet Protest Vote – Intra-party Councillor Replacement in #le14

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Post by Dr. Michael Courtney, TCD

The big stories of this year’s local elections are the collapse of the Labour party vote and the ongoing rise of Sinn Féin. To a large degree, the surge in Sinn Féin’s percentage of the vote and number of councillors is attributed to a protest vote. The narrative goes that those who voted for Fine Gael and Labour in the 2009 Locals and the 2011 General Election are punishing these parties for continuing the programme of austerity and the breaking of several election promises. The voters’ strategy is interpreted to be; to vote for other parties in the local elections to demonstrate their unhappiness with the government’s performance. This type of voting behaviour in ‘second-order’ elections is usually evident in good economic times and bad. Continue reading