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

New Report on Lotteries Published

Post by Dr Peter Stone (TCD)

In Aristotle’s day, people took it for granted that democracy meant selection by lottery, and aristocracy meant elections. Today, most people assume that a democratic society elects all of its officials. But a growing movement believes that we should revisit selection by lottery as a means of curing the various ills of contemporary democratic society.

The Policy Institute at Trinity College Dublin has just published a report on this topic. The report, entitled The Lottery as a Democratic Institution was officially released in July 2013. It was co-authored by Gil Delannoi (fellow of the Centre de Recherches Politiques and professor of political theory at Sciences Po, Paris), Oliver Dowlen (who holds an ISRF Early Career Fellowship at Queen Mary College, University College London), and Peter Stone (Ussher Assistant Professor of Political Science, Trinity College Dublin). 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

Deliberation in practice: the use of mini-publics in contemporary democracies

Royal Irish Academy, Dawson Street
November 2 2012
1.15-5.30pm

An event organised by We the Citizens, in cooperation with the Royal Irish Academy and the G1000 (Belgium)

This event is designed to coincide with the establishment of the Irish government’s constitutional convention. This is the first time an Irish government has involved ordinary citizens in discussions about constitutional reform. Mini-publics may be a relatively new phenomenon to Ireland, but their use is quite widespread in a number of other countries, such as the Icelandic constitutional council, the British Columbia citizens’ assembly, the Dutch citizens’ forum, or the Belgian G1000 citizen summit. This event aims at reviewing these and other examples of deliberation in practice.

The participants include some of the world’s leading experts in the field:

  • Ken Carty (University of British Columbia) – the academic director of the British Columbia Citizens’ Assembly (Canada)
  • Henk van der Kolk (University of Twente) – the academic director of the Dutch Bürgerforum
  • Erikur Bergmann (Bifrost University) – former member of the Icelandic Constitutional Council
  • Didier Caluwaerts (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgique), Min Reuchamps (Université catholique de Louvain, Belgique), Peter Vermeersch (University of Leuven) – members of the academic team of the G1000 citizen summit (Belgium)
  • David Farrell (UCD), Eoin O’Malley (DCU) and Jane Suiter (DCU) – members of the academic team of We the Citizens (Ireland)
  • Other academics specializing in the study of deliberation, including: André Bächtiger (Universität Luzern), Gemma Carney (NUIG), Patrick Fournier (University of Montreal), Clodagh Harris (UCC), Kaisa Herne (Turku University), Gerry Stoker (Southampton University)

To register, please contact Claudia Saba claudia.saba@ucdconnect.ie

For more information, David Farrell David.Farrell@ucd.ie

Should Ireland appoint non-parliamentary ministers?

Posted by Eoin O’Malley (20 July, 2012)

A central theme in constitutional politics is the separation of powers. The Irish constitution doesn’t refer to this directly, but it is implied and the courts have assumed that a separation of powers does exist. While we can reasonably argue that the judiciary is independent of the executive and legislature in practice (except that the executive appoints the judiciary), no such argument can be made for the separation of the legislature and the executive.

In parliamentary systems of government, the parliament appoints the government (executive) but more than this, in Ireland, as with many other places, the legislature appoints a government from among its own members. 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