“Free to those that can afford it, very expensive to those that can’t”* Creating the Luxury of Freedom of Information


The underpinning values in freedom of information are openness and transparency. They can be regarded separately as openness represents an individuals right to access information and transparency representing a persons ability to scrutinize the decision making process. The need for adequate freedom of information provisions was summed up the Australian Senate Standing Committee on Legislation and Constitutional Affairs on the Freedom of Information Bill 1978. Continue reading

Event: What is the Culture of the Second Republic

This is a guest post by Oliver Moran, a member of the national committee of the ‘Second Republic’ political reform movement.  Image

“What do we want?” “Political Reform!” “When do we want it?” “NOW!” I loved this image from Elaine Byrne in a post to this website earlier this summer. It straight away had me wanting to create placards and take to the streets chanting.

But what do we want? Among a section of the thinking classes, the summer schools did something to bring great minds closer together. Now, what about the rest of us? What do I want? And what can I do (while I wait for the revolution) to make it happen?

Second Republic (www.2nd-republic.ie) has been quietly working towards answering such question over the past few months. What we’ve done is to organise a facilitated, day-long discussion of around 100 people on the “culture of the Second Republic”.

These 100 people will be made up of a mix of invitees and the general public. A little under two thirds of these places have already been accounted for and we are now making a push to fill the last places. (And that’s where you come in!), you can register for the event here: http://2ndrepublic.eventbrite.ie/

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The Start of Something New? Fianna Fáil’s Gender Equality Action Plan 2013-2018

By Claire McGing, Lecturer in Political Geography & Irish Research Council Scholar, NUI Maynooth


This week (July 30th), Fianna Fáil published the party’s new Gender Equality Action Plan 2013-2018. In a foreword by the party leader, Micheal Martin TD, it is noted that the under-representation of women in Irish politics “is a systematic problem, which requires radical action or nothing will change. It can only be tackled through a willingness to overturn long-established practices”.

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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

The Government’s Reform Measures to Date: A Good Start but (Much) More to Do

Post by David Farrell (July 11 2011)

A re-reading of the Coalition Government’s Programme for Government is timely. It’s worth taking stock of the political reform proposals that have been implemented, those that are on going, and those that are (firmly) promised. There has been some undoubted progress, but a lot – a lot – still needs to be done. Continue reading

The Constitution Review Group report – a great (free) resource for Irish citizens

A topic that emerged rather unexpectedly from the We the Citizens event that I attended in June was the importance of civic education. At my table, the argument for focusing attention on this topic was that citizens need to be politically well-informed in order to understand the powers of political offices and the consequences of  their political decisions.

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Incrementalism or radical reform

By Jane Suiter

Writing in The Irish Times Eoin Daly of DCU argues that citizens should have access to non-sectarian public schools. While the argument is interesting in and of itself what appears to be at the heart of it is a kind of radical reform where, instead of the usual incrementalism typical of Irish public policy making, we ask what sort of system is it we want for the future and design for that. In many ways this can be applied to policy making in most government departments, where many things happen simply because they have always been done this way. Is it the case that if we are to reimagine Ireland then we need to look at all areas where vested interests have had an overly substantial input into policy making in the past? Some possible questions arising are whether our Ministers should be bound by precedent, or should they engage in radical reform? And if they do what are their chances of seeing come to fruition in the face of a possibly unenthusiastic public service?

Political Reform Poll Results

By Jane Suiter

Political reform ran a poll here for a number of weeks, it has taken a little time to report the findings for which I apologise. We received some 485 responses to the poll with people from 16 to 65 responding from most counties across the country. These are of course not nationally representative but are probably representative of those that read this site. Some of the results make for interesting reading with unsurprisingly an appetite for political reform, some of it quite radical. Continue reading

The importance of properly targeted and citizen-focused reform

Posted by David Farrell (May 3, 2011)

The on-going British referendum debate on whether to change their electoral system from ‘first past the post’ to the alternative vote (the system we use to elect our President) should provide some salutary lessons. Almost regardless of the outcome – which most now expect to be a safe majority against reform – the tone of the debate reveals a lot about the dangers of leaping into a reform agenda that has not been properly thought through, and also one that had little if any popular buy-in from citizens at large. The reason for the British referendum was nothing more than a sop by the Conservatives to tie the Liberal Democrats into coalition. There was no consultation with the wider public in advance: the proposal was foisted on the electorate without as much as a by your leave – the ultimate in top-down decision-making. Continue reading