Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics

Do 14,000 people in North Tipperary have the right to foist Lowry on the rest of us?

Posted by Jason O on Mar 23, 2011 in Irish Politics |

A friend of mine, watching “Prime Time” last night, summed it up perfectly. She said that she had to turn it off because of the effect it was having on her blood pressure. Aside from Sarah Carey’s extraordinary “jaw clunking off floor” performance defending Denis O’Brien, it raised the issue of how we as a society deal with this stuff. We have spent €150 million on this report. One of the possible horrific side-effects of the Moriarty Report could be multi-million Euro lawsuits brought against the Irish taxpayer by the other contenders for the mobile phone licence. Where’s the upside? Will anyone go to jail? Does anyone ever go to jail in Ireland for this stuff?

The other question is about Deputy Lowry himself: We have to ask ourselves as to whether 14,000 people in a constituency have the right to contaminate our national parliament with a man now condemned by the report? Do they have that right? Even if those 14,000 voters are morally equivalent to him, and share his values, are, in effect, like him, which is a reasonable assumption, do the rest of us have to put up with that?

Enda has talked about a new politics. So be it. Perhaps the people should be asked in a referendum to give the power to the Dail to remove, by a three quarters majority, a member deemed to be unsuitable?

Two thirds of voters in North Tipp did not vote for Michael Lowry. But 14,000 people did, having a pretty good idea as to what they were voting for. Do they have the right to drag us down to their level?


Mar 23, 2011 at 12:02 pm

The answer to your question is: Unfortunately, yes.

Perhaps the people should be asked in a referendum to give the power to the Dail to remove, by a three quarters majority, a member deemed to be unsuitable?

Too broad, too open to potential abuse. Who gets to define “unsuitable”?

Thirsty Gargoyle
Mar 23, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Isn’t O’Brien one of the supposed Great & Good of Irish Society who’ve given the government what they regard as a blueprint for national recovery? Not, I suppose, that his presence on the team means anything about the quality of ideas. We may need to resist the temptation to play the man rather than the ball on this one.

Jason O
Mar 23, 2011 at 10:09 pm

75% of the Dail does. And the Irish people. If FF and FG decided to exclude all Sinn Fein TDs, for example, I think the voters would give them pretty short shrift. I can think of one TD and one senator, on the other hand, that the public would happily expell.

Mar 24, 2011 at 2:20 am

75% of the Dail does. And the Irish people.

If there are specific actions such as corruption that we want to define as deserving of expulsion, then explicitly define them and let the courts, or some other independent body, decide the issue of guilt or innocence, rather than letting politicians be judge, jury and executioner on the issue.

And the reasons need to be specific and tightly-defined to justify overriding the decision of the voters. Unfortunately the electorate of North Tipp seem happy to return a self-serving shyster to Dáil Éireann; I don’t like it any more than you do, but we have to live with democratic decisions that we don’t like until such time as the electorate changes its mind. On the other hand, if Lowry were to be bankrupted by being landed with the costs of his obstruction of the tribunal and therefore was forced to vacate his seat, I could live with that…

If FF and FG decided to exclude all Sinn Fein TDs, for example, I think the voters would give them pretty short shrift.

If 75% of Dáil Éireann (FF and FG together aren’t at that level, and hopefully never will be again) were to get together to remove someone purely for being an irritant to business-as-usual, then you can be damn sure that they’d also make certain that the voters would have to wait a long time before getting the chance to give them short shrift.

Mar 24, 2011 at 11:08 am

one would have to think long and hard about excluding democratically elected crooks from the Dail. the best thing to do is to ensure that such a hypothetical crooked TD receives nothing of benefit for his or her constituency – no road building, casinos, schools, hospitals etc that he or she can pretend they got. make sure there’s nothing he or she can point to in the next election and that he can’t get a school principal to send out election literature via children.

Mar 25, 2011 at 5:10 pm

What about a recall system not based in constituencies? A constituency elects someone and if a non-trivial percentage of the population signs a petition essentially saying “No chance; go get someone else” a bye-election is held?

Jason O
Mar 26, 2011 at 8:44 am

The problem with recall elections is that Irish governments get unpopular within 18 months in office, and so we’d have every government TD threatened with recall after every budget.

Jason O
Mar 26, 2011 at 8:58 am

That’s an interesting idea. I wonder: Should we instruct all public bodies to ignore requests from Michael Lowry? Can we?



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