I just finished reading an article in today’s IT on the constitutional convention. In the article, Dr. Conor O’Mahony claims that the government’s plans on the constitutional convention will be little more than a ‘charade’, indeed, Dr. O’Mahony goes on to describe the planned convention as a ‘joke’. I have to agree with most of Dr. O’Mahony’s assertions, it is no coincidence that they overlap considerably with my own assessment of the government’s plans – I think that the shortcomings of these proposals would be clear to anyone who cared to read them.
In a time when many are calling for radical democratisation of our political system (with new communication technologies holding previously undreamed of possibilities for collective decision making), our government seems intent on limiting the constitutional convention to a discussion of topics that are mostly anodyne or irrelevant. There is no evidence of any kind of overarching theme or logic to the agenda – it seems to be a pick and mix of the least harmful political reform proposals put forward by the governing parties during the election campaign. Labour’s rowback on their promises to rewrite the entire constitution is particularly egregious.
Personally, I have to say that I find the proposals rather demoralising, speaking as someone who sees genuine potential in the Citizen Assembly model as a means of originating proposals for political reform. Worst of all is the fact that the government can simply shelve any proposals that they do not approve of. As Dr. O’Mahony reminds us, this is exactly what happened to the CRG report in the mid 90s. Well, to the extent that the Convention is a ‘joke’, I’m afraid that the joke will be on us.
UPDATED: Here is a link to the motion on the CC introduced by the government and the dail debate around that motion: