UCD GARRET FITZGERALD SUMMER SCHOOL: Reforming The Republic’s Democratic Institutions 20 and 21 June 2014

Location: FitzGerald Debating Chamber, Student Centre, UCD

What kind of institutions can be framed to deal with the challenges of the 21st century, while maintaining the spirit of a republic? The structure of political institutions and the quality of public and civic life were long-standing concerns for Dr Garret FitzGerald. The third annual UCD Garret FitzGerald School will address issues concerning the reform of democratic institutions in Ireland, which has recently gained momentum from the Constitutional Convention, debates on the role of the Senate, and possibilities of far-reaching changes in institutions ranging from the judiciary and courts to the educational system.
The Opening Keynote, on The Infrastructure of Democracy, by Professor Philip Pettit of Princeton University is at 6 pm on Friday 20 June. Ruairi Quinn TD, Minister for Education and Skills, will respond, followed by a reception.

On Saturday, 21 June 2014 there will be sessions on

  • Reforming Institutions: Politics. Speakers: Dr. Niamh Hardiman and Professor John Coakley, School of Politics and International Relations, UCD
  • Reforming Institutions: The Law. Speakers: Hon. Mr. Justice John MacMenamin, Supreme Court and Dr. Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, UCD
  • Reforming Institutions: Education. Speakers: Dr. Eoin Daly, School of Law, NUI Galway and Dr. Iseult Honohan, School of Politics and International Relations, UCD

To register please RSVP to anne.murphy@ucd.ie as soon as possible.

Will independents bring ‘real change’?

Posted by Eoin O’Malley, Dublin City University

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Parties are increasingly unpopular. The recently released European Social Survey (wave 6) shows parties are distrusted by 85% of Irish people (compared with parliament and the government distrusted by 75% and 77% respectively).  Ireland isn’t that unusual; Most countries show a large majority lacking trust in parties. Danes, Swedes and Austrian are the most trustful of politics, but even in those places just about a third of respondents claim to trust parties.

This might not matter much. Continue reading

Why didn’t we riot?

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This is the text of an article published in the Sunday Business Post 22nd December 2013

On the night of 6th December 2008 there were widespread protests against the government in Athens. In one middle class district in the centre of Athens, Exarcheia, there were confrontations with the police. Police were ordered to leave the district, but two policemen decided to stay, parked their car, and followed a group of youths. It’s not clear what happened next, but one of the policemen shot Alexandros Grigoropoulos, a 15 year-old boy from a wealthy family, who attended a private school. This sparked a wave of rioting throughout Greece that lasted a number of weeks.

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Looking to 2016 – How stands the Republic?

Post on behalf of Joe Mulholland

The papers presented at the 2013 MacGill Summer School are now available to read (see here).

For several years now, and especially since the sudden and brutal fall of the Celtic Tiger, the MacGill School has focussed on reform of the institutions of the state – political, social and economic. With webcasting and the sterling work of our colleagues in broadcasting and the press, this message goes far beyond the conference hall. As has been pointed out many times at MacGill, radical reform of our politics and governance in general has to be a priority if we are not to have recurring crises of the kind we are living painfully through at this time and it has to come from the bottom up. Continue reading

The Irish Constitutional Convention illustrates how ordinary citizens can play their part in the process after all

ccvenPost by Harry McGee, political correspondent The Irish Times. This article originally appeared in the Connacht Tribune, 12 June 2013

I have to say I was sceptical about the notion of a citizens’ assembly becoming part of official political discourse in Ireland. The idea is that rather than getting politicians to decide on new political direction, you get a representative group of people drawn from all strands of society – getting the demographics and geographics right, as Bertie Ahern kept on saying.

To me it seemed like an indulgence to political scientists – telling them all their Christmases had come Continue reading

Professional politicians and political reform. (Matt Wall)

A couple of interesting stories in the Irish media today caused me to re-consider the notion that political reform should be the exclusive domain of elected politicians. With their electoral mandates, experience of the day-to-day functioning of political institutions and (in Ireland, at least) their exclusive right to initiate constitutional change, our professional politicians certainly have more claim than most other social groups or organisations to take the lead on this issue.

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