Two weeks ago, it was reported in a post on this site that Second Republic, an independent citizens’ group campaigning for political reform (which we are both involved in), was preparing a detailed proposal for a process of citizen-led political reform in Ireland. The group has today released a draft of their proposal for public comment and discussion.
The group’s proposal can be downloaded in PDF form here:
Oliver Moran explains how and why this document came about in this post.
At the time of the election, in their manifestos and on the airwaves, all of the political parties then represented in the Oireachtas presented proposals for deliberative processes that would lead to wide-scale political reforms. Those commitments reflected the widespread view before, during and since the election campaign that our political institutions had failed us and that a fair, non-partisan and involving process of reform was necessary to ensure we move forward, stronger as a state.
Both parties now in government promised radical reform through such a process. Fine Gael promised that “within its first hundred days a Fine Gael Government will establish a Citizens’ Assembly” on political reform. Labour proposed “a 90-member constitutional convention with an open mandate”, thirty members of which would be “ordinary citizens” selected at random. Unsurprisingly, a commitment to a citizen-driven process of radical reform was echoed in the Programme for Government agreed between the two parties.
None of these proposal went into much detail, however, and not many details have emerged since the election. What do now we know about the promised process of reform? What will it look like? Who will be involved? How will it make decisions? The short answer is that we don’t know, which is why we committed, as Irish citizens, to creating a detailed proposal for what an Irish citizen led political reform process might look like. The document above is the outcome of this endeavour.
This document was not prepared by an academic think tank or a government department. It was written by ordinary people, with work and family commitments, bought together by a sincere concern for their state, working in their spare time and for no reward. That commitment, which since November has amounted to thousands of hours of work, should underline the seriousness with which they make this proposal.
This weekend, We the Citizen’s will seek to demonstrate the worth that a citizens’ assembly can have for Ireland. We see the publication of this proposal in terms of that discussion. We hope that it will inform the government in deciding the shape of the process of reform. More importantly, however, we hope that it will invigorate the debate on the role that a citizens’ assembly can play and what it will look like. The group invite comments on their proposal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As part of that discussion, the group are inviting readers to vote on the name of the proposed assembly. To vote, visit here: http://www.2nd-republic.ie/name