How should candidates for the position of Ceann Comhairle be nominated?

More hints are emerging about the government’s intentions relating to the election of the next Ceann Comhairle.  As reported in a recent post, the government is about to propose a change to Dáil standing orders so that the Ceann Comhairle of the next Dáil will be elected by a secret ballot of all members.  As a number of us have argued for some time, this is an important first step towards making future governments more accountable to the Dáil. (My colleagues and I will be setting out more detailed proposals on Dáil reform this coming Wednesday morning.)

But in order to make this reform meaningful careful thought also needs to be given to the nomination procedure, and here — unfortunately — the reports of government intentions are not promising.   Continue reading

ReformCard: a tool to help voters decide

The editors and contributors behind 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

Government considering referendum to abolish the Seanad

Posted by Eoin O’Malley, 8 December, 2010

Fionnán Sheehan reports in today’s Irish Independent that the government is considering putting a question by referendum on election day to abolish the Seanad. This might be seen as a genuine attempt at reform,  a desperate attempt to divert attention from the obvious – the economy -, or a way to deliver some electoral goodies for Green voters. In any case it would hardly seem worth it. First, I suspect nothing will reset the agenda of the election away from anything other than the economy. Second , if it is an attempt at reforming a broken political system, it’ll do little to fix it. And Green voters might not be impressed by this, coming as it does, on the eve of an election – it might smack of desperation. Continue reading

A different type of Ceann Comhairle could have made a difference

Posted by Eoin O’Malley

In the political calculations made last week on the removal of John O’Donoghue and selection of a new Ceann Comhairle, two things seemed to be most important in the Taoiseach’s calculations. One was the FF/ Green majority  – so getting a Fine Gael or Labour TD would have eased the pressure on the government’s tight Dáil arithmetic. The other was Brian Cowen’s position within the Fianna Fáil party – apparently giving just a  plum job to a Blueshirt would have caused him more problems than he could afford. Continue reading