It is 2021, ten years after Fine Gael and Labour swept to power in the 2011 general election promising to change the face of Irish politics. How have they done?
The Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Future of the Seanad is nearing completion of its report, which will go to the cabinet, and then onto a Social Partners Forum for consideration before returning to a sub-committee of the Oireachtas before being discussed by the Council of the Isles. Following that, the government will consider the reports, and issue a green paper on options for Seanad reform.
President McGuinness is in his first seven year term, following the rejection of the Constitutional Convention proposal to reduce the term of the President to five years, on a turnout of 19%. The report of the Constitutional Convention concluded that the Irish political system has made Ireland the country it is today. It recommended the insertion into Bunreacht na hEireann of a declaration of social justice and statements of the rights entitlements of various interest groups. It also recommended that every Oireachtas member should have a Twitter account.
As the 2021 general election approaches, Sinn Fein trails Fine Gael by 5% in the polls, with Fianna Fail in third place and Labour in single digits, its parliamentary party depleted by the wipeout of 2016 and defections to Sinn Fein.
Fianna Fail pledges to “stand up to the Troika” and that “there is a better way”, promising to reverse cutbacks and replace the hated Property Tax with an as yet uncosted or detailed “more fair and equitable alternative”. FF pledge to scrap the tax and then set up a forum with the social partners and some people not receiving money from the taxpayer to consider alternatives.
Sinn Fein, getting scrutinised about their role in government in the North, have vowed that when they enter government RTE and the media generally will be brought under “more democratic control”, as will the Gardai and the judiciary.