Post on behalf of Joe Mulholland
The papers presented at the 2013 MacGill Summer School are now available to read (see here).
For several years now, and especially since the sudden and brutal fall of the Celtic Tiger, the MacGill School has focussed on reform of the institutions of the state – political, social and economic. With webcasting and the sterling work of our colleagues in broadcasting and the press, this message goes far beyond the conference hall. As has been pointed out many times at MacGill, radical reform of our politics and governance in general has to be a priority if we are not to have recurring crises of the kind we are living painfully through at this time and it has to come from the bottom up.
Of course, other European countries are also in deep crisis but we appear to have had nothing but crises since the foundation of the state and have only once been able to offer our citizens the fundamental right of a job in their own country and that was in the first decade of the 21st century. We blew it by having people in authority in various sectors who were, to say the least, negligent and incompetent – and unaccountable.
As the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising approaches, what better time is there to look at the republic which came about as a result of that event? Is this the republic that was dreamt of by Pearse, Connolly and the other brave men and women who marched up to the GPO on that fateful Easter morning? Do we even recognise and cherish the republic we live in? Do we act and behave according to republican principles? The greed and avarice and the irresponsible behaviour which we have witnessed in the last decade would indicate that the answer is definitely, no and that respect throughout the population, young and old, for the republic and its institutions is not what it should be.
We have almost three years to prepare ourselves to honour the memory of 1916. We have the horrendously difficult task of rebuilding our economy and all the signs are that we have quite a long way to go before that crucially important objective is achieved. But we must, in parallel, reform our institutions so that we have a republic that is a model of the highest standards of integrity and of competence and one to which we are proud to give our loyalty. ‘Standing by the Republic’ is an expression we need to hear more often.
To see the papers from the 2013 MacGill summer school, click here.
4 thoughts on “Looking to 2016 – How stands the Republic?”
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There will be no republic in any meaningful sense – and in particular in the sense that Lincoln described it: governance of the people, by the people, for the people – until a majority of irish citizens demand that their elected representatives deliver it. Unfortunately, the comfortable majority appear to be content to vote for those who profess undying loyalty to one party or another with the party (or parties) securing a majority electing a taoiseach. They then appear to be broadly content that an elected dictatorship will govern until the next general election. Those who exercise power and influence are more than content because they are confident they can bend this transient elected dictatorship to their will. Sufficient largesse is distributed to those who either are or yearn to be in the comfortable majority to secure their acquisence. Rocking the boat is out of the question. Those in the uncomfortable minority can either mend and make do or up sticks and leave.
And so we are where we are with no prospect of release.
Agree! What about an Internet based party such as the Five Star Movement in Italy any chance of such a party having enough electoral success to challenge the monumental stagnation and implicit corruption in Irish politics? I still think the power of the Internet has only scraped the surface of the Irish political system.
Even the most educated, self serving elites, must realise by now, the dangers of state collapse over the next 5 to 6 years or less. This spells monumental trouble for them and their pensions as they enter the latter part of their lives. They run the risk of the rule book being torn up and thrown away permanently as the population redraws it’s social contracts with those who receive government largesse.
The vast majority of households in the state are in receipt of some form of transfer payment and a significant number of the members of these households are on the public or semi-state payroll. The private sheltered sectors rely on the state and its agencies for a large share of their net income. There is an enromous tapestry of grants, subsidies, allowances and expemptions. A majority of citizens believe they would lose out if any serious efforts were made to tackle the rent-seeking, profit-gouging, dead-weight costs and soft corruption that are endemic in Ireland’s society and economy. The irony is that the vast majoirty would be better off if these issues were tackled because the costs of membership of this comfortable majority far out-weigh any benefits. However, the elite rent-seekers and profit-gougers are canny enough to realise that some largesse must be distributed to the current comfortable majority to ensure their continued acquiesence. Half-truths, deceptions and evasions are spun by those exercising and abusing economic and political power to conceal their rent-seeking and profit-gouging and are eagerly gobbled up and regurgitated by lazy, dozy, so-called ‘jourmalists’.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of Irish citizens are very slow learners. And so we are where we are.
Unlike other democracies, there is a negligible chance of a sufficient number of Irish citizens demanding their public representatives do the job they’re elected – and well paid – to do. And the only political alternative most are offered is some statist, selectively collectivised, clapped-out left-wing rhetoric.