Don’t stab at Irish political reform

Irish political reform is  in danger of getting off on the wrong foot. There may be a referendum next year for abolishing the Seanad and all party talks are proceeding to reduce the number of Dail committees, so that the surviving ones can assume a stronger scrutiny role. There may be much merit in both (although I have my doubts about the former). What’s wrong  is that the process so far belongs  exclusively to the political elite who incubated the problems in the first place.  But surely political reform featured in the party manifestos? Yes but how many noticed when they were reeling from the consequences of the  financial crisis? Political reform is a tricky project. It appears remote from real life but it can affect it powerfully.

 The Dublin political parties should  pause and learn from the mistakes of the British coalition counterparts  who rushed too quickly into electoral reform and setting a bonfires of the quangos ( semi-state bodies), and who may be about  to repeat the mistake over reform of the  House of Lords. The lesson worth learning is that if you’ve been waiting generations for reform, you should take time to win consensus and  get it right. An exchange of ideas between Britainand Ireland could prove fruitful.

What has happened to the  People’s Convention? Initiatives such as We Citizens may be modest in themselves but they  can stimulate the debate needed before the Irish public are confronted by  deceptively simple choices.

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  • HeinzGuderian

    I have to agree with you here Bri. After 100 years of less than useless politicians,the last thing our friend in Southern Ireland need,is rushed political reform.

    Much bettter to wait for clear concensus,as to the way forward………….good luck with that one !! 😉

  • Alias

    The reform that Ireland needs above all is reform of monetary and macroeconomic policy. That has proved to be so disasterous that it has collapsed the entire domestic economy, removed all economic sovereignty from the nation, and reduced the state to indentured servant status.

    Instead of reforming the governance that caused the problem, our eurogombeens have been instructed to ignore the external causes of the problem, and to pretend that these causes were internal and so can be solved by internal reforms.

    Meanwhile, the flawed monetary and macroeconomic policy continues to inflict harm on the nation. As the ECB increases interest rates, we will again see that inappropriate monetary policy will cause more wealth to be extracted from the domestic ecomony and will cause more people to return assets to the state-owned banks, inflicting further massive debts on the taxpayers. A quarter of all loans are currently impaired, and further inappropriate monetary policy will cause more to be impaired.

    How are our eurogombeens going to deal with the flawed monetary and macroeconomic policy from the EU that continues to inflict harm on the nation? Why they’re going to provide mortgage relief. In other words, they’re going to force the taxpayers of the state to subsidise the cost of the flawed monetary and macroeconomic policy, so it is now proposed that taxpayers should off-set the damage caused by these policies.

    You couldn’t make it up…

  • Damian O’Loan

    The institutional reform that is the focus of the post is very different to the economic policy reform that was promised by all the parties during the election campaign and hinted at by Alias.

    Ironically, it is from Europe that tangible measures to restrain banking excess are coming, such as constitutional financial commitments. Ireland isn’t leading the charge for reform at a scale that may have some impact on outcomes, Europe being the obvious starting point.

    Institutional reform can and perhaps should be approached in the slow-burn style Brian describes, but the consensus on economic reform expressed in FF’s defeat should be enough for Ireland to take a more pro-active role at an EU-level.

    Institutionally, any distillation of EU involvement would represent a far greater blow to ‘economic sovereignty’ than anything the IMF has done.

  • aquifer

    Remember the All Island Forum where the Toiseach (Charlie Haughey?) hi-jacked the conclusions in favour of surprise surprise a unitary all island state?

    Best have an independent commission take its time and draw its own conclusions.

    What does a political system have to do?

    Get leaders qualified and well fitted to run the economy for starters.