“School’s out for Summer Schools”: The Week In Irish Politics

So that’s it. The political term over and done with. Politicians off on their holidays and the lights all off in Leinster House. They’re all in Marbella, Magaluf or Corfu. At least that’s the impression you get any time you read the papers upon the rising of the houses of the Oireachtas for any recess. In reality, the political world keeps turning and politicians are still at work, be it in the constituency, developing policy, meetings with various groups, or … Read more

Seanad Debacle: Enda, Heather and John face the pressing need to “stop digging”…

What’s most remarkable about the Seanad controversy is how it reveals the ineptness of the Taoiseach’s handling of what started as a crisis at the sleepy end of the Oireachtas. But the Seanad has been like a body risen since Enda slung it rather carelessly onto death row back in October 2009. The man at the centre of the controversy was, as many from other parties before him, Kilcar man John McNulty, was supposed to get a run in as … Read more

Haste and fast tracking are best reasons NOT to abolish Seanad Eireann

Great piece in the Irish Times today, from Philip Pettit of Princeton University why the the proposal to abolish the Seanad is the wrong way to go: The need to put legislation through a second house ensures against the danger of fast-tracking inadequately considered laws. The existence of a second house creates a base for dissident voices to be heard in the community, guarding against majority complacency. And the requirement for the second house to agree on the dismissal of … Read more

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 … Read more

Irish voters, go gently into political reform

For the first time since the 1880s, electoral reform is a buzz throughout these islands. So far, I’d say,  the case not made in either the UK or the Republic, where in both States it’s more  a matter of a disconnect between the problems and the solutions.  In the UK the perceived problem seems to be a too strong an executive elected by too few votes; in the Republic too strong an executive elected by too many for too long. … Read more

Getting beyond the likely ‘gridlock’ of future reforms…

There’s a canny piece from John Rogers, Labour’s former Attorney General from 1984-87 in the Irish Times today on the subject of political reform in the Republic. He starts by usefully restating the bleedin’ obvious on why the much researched and much debated Seanad reforms never happened: The truth probably is that none of the political parties wanted real reform of the Seanad because real reform inevitably would mean Seanad electoral reform. Of course there could not be such reform … Read more

Fintan’s Enough is Enough petition is a better start for reform

Although no fan of Fintan O’Toole’s spasm of direct action, his headline political reforms are admirable. Once he’s won some support, he surely needs to transform the petition into a collective enterprise. Political reform is no solo run or quick fix. He will also realise he needs support from among those he has  been slagging off or he’ll not get very far.   For Irish reform, old ghosts should not inhibit a comparative analysis with the British experience. Ireland like Britain … Read more