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

Time for a Convention of the People.

Posted by Jason O on Feb 17, 2010 in Irish Politics |

Tony Soprano TD

Tony Soprano TD

Here’s the truth: Expecting the Oireachtas to fix what’s wrong with our political system is like asking Tony Soprano to eradicate organised crime in New Jersey. Our system, based on a constitution drafted when radio was the coming thing, needs to be looked at. So how do we it?

A people’s convention. A what? A convention made up of, say, 50 of the usual political and business and union types, and 100 voters picked at random by demographic means. We set them a task, and a firm deadline, to invite experts, question them, and then draft a series of proposals which will go NOT to the Oireachtas, where they’ll only wreck them (just look at the bang up work they did with the 12 reports on Seanad reform. They’ve had their turn) but straight to the people in a referendum. If the Oireachtas isn’t happy, it can draft it’s own proposals, and we’ll let the people decide. It’s time.  

4 Comments

Diane
Feb 17, 2010 at 12:11 pm

I think it would have to go through the Oireachtas to get to referendum stage (procedural laws blah blah blah).

But how about this – get a group (such as your convention) to draw up proposals for change with essential principles as to what needs to be done for political reform. Start a cross party movement, maybe like the “yes to Lisbon” group, before the next general election and have every single candidate state their position on the proposed reforms with a commitment to implementing them if elected. Essentially candidates, if elected, may not be around that long, but that’s how the reform works and the movement itself could also put forward candidates. The general election becomes a precursor to the referendum. You need to get the people inside Leinster house to be behind this, so you put them there.


 
Jason O
Feb 18, 2010 at 7:43 am

The problem, Diane, is that I have no faith in the Oireachtas not to attempt to sabotage or delay indefinitely any meaningful reform. Yes, the Oireachtas will have to pass the legislation creating the convention and allowing it to put its proposals to the people, but that’s all I’d let them do. They just can’t be trusted.


 
Fergus O'Rourke
Feb 20, 2010 at 9:17 am

The People elect the Dail or decide that they can’t be bothered. The Dail is therefore the voice of the People.

Why can’t the commentariat accept this ?


 
Jason O
Feb 20, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Fergus, I agree, the Dail is the voice of the great disinterested mass of the Irish people. But that’s not the point. As SPUC proved in the 1980s, it is possible for a well organised and essentially small group of people to make the political system do its bidding, despite the fact that many people (As the 1983 abortion referendum turnout proved) don’t actually give a toss one way or the other. Political reform is the same. The great majority don’t give a toss, but I do, and I have a right to use whatever legal tools available to me to change the system to one more to my liking. Will the rest of the Irish people support me or oppose me? Chances are, they do neither, and stay at home watching the telly.


 

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