The Irish Constitutional Convention completes its work

Irish CC in action

*Declaration of interest: I am the research director of the Convention (in a voluntary capacity).

Last weekend, the Constitutional Convention completed its work.  At its closing dinner last Saturday, the snappy slogan on the menu summed things up well: ’100 members, 10 meetings, 1 constitution’. With a budget of some €900,000 and a deadline of one year (that ultimately was extended by a further two months), the Convention surpassed all expectations. Continue reading

Another set of milestones in the work of the Irish Constitutional Convention

In the week that’s in it….

Earlier today it was announced on the Irish Constitutional Convention’s website that the convention members have decided that the last two meetings of the convention shall be focused on Dáil reform and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. And reports suggest that this week we will have the formal government announcement that, following a recommendation by the constitutional convention, there will be a referendum on same-sex marriage in the lifetime of this government. Continue reading

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 Irish Constitutional Convention illustrates how ordinary citizens can play their part in the process after all

ccvenPost by Harry McGee, political correspondent The Irish Times. This article originally appeared in the Connacht Tribune, 12 June 2013

I have to say I was sceptical about the notion of a citizens’ assembly becoming part of official political discourse in Ireland. The idea is that rather than getting politicians to decide on new political direction, you get a representative group of people drawn from all strands of society – getting the demographics and geographics right, as Bertie Ahern kept on saying.

To me it seemed like an indulgence to political scientists – telling them all their Christmases had come Continue reading

Bringing citizens into the political equation

Posted by David Farrell, June 5 2012

In the aftermath of the Fiscal Treaty referendum, Bruno Kaufmann reflects on the need for radical democratic reform in Ireland and also across the EU. As he puts it, the citizens need to be brought onto ‘the political stage’. Mr Kaufmann is the President of the Initiative and Referendum Institute Europe, and Chair of the Election Commission for the Swedish city government of Falun. His blog can be accessed here.

How to involve citizens in the process of political reform

Posted by David Farrell (January 24, 2012)

In an interesting piece in today’s Irish Times (see here), Peadar Kirby and Mary P. Murphy make a persuasive case for involving ordinary citizens in the constitutional convention that the government is anticipated to establish in the very near future.

While they take issue with the approach proposed by We The Citizens (which some of us involved in this blog were also involved with), they share the same fundamental ambition of actively engaging with citizens in the process of political and constitutional reform that this government has promised (and hopefully will start delivering on soon). Continue reading

G1000: Belgium’s Citizens’ Summit

Posted by David Farrell (November 12, 2011)

On November 11, 800 citizens from across Belgium were brought together to discuss the future of their country. G1000 was conceived a few months ago by a small group of Belgian citizens (the key player is a prominent author and columnist, David van Reybrouck; the others are a mix of academics, journalists, and civil society activists) who were concerned about the failure of their political system to get to grips with the economic crisis.

Exercised in particular by the inability of Belgium’s politicians to form a government and the resulting political limbo, the opening line of the group’s manifesto, states: ‘if the politicians can’t find a solution let the citizens’. G1000 seeks to show the country’s political leaders that they should engage with the citizens in seeking a way out of the mess. Their principal objectives are both to show that deliberative democracy can work, and to produce concrete proposals for the government to consider. Continue reading

An Irish Citizens’ Assembly is promised by Phil Hogan

Post by David Farrell (October 22 2011)

Speaking at a roundtable on political reform last night that was organized by the Political Studies Association of Ireland, Minister Hogan said that details about the proposed constitutional convention will be confirmed within weeks of the presidential election. And, he made it clear that a citizens’ assembly would form part of that process. For Irish Times coverage, see here.

This is the first time since the election, that a government minister has confirmed that there will be a citizens’ assembly.