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Recovery for the mainstream parties is not about PR palaver of ‘better communications’ or ‘getting the message out’, it’s about having a credible message in the first place.

Stephen Collins is a quality political analyst of long-standing and deserved repute. His analysis in today’s Irish Times,( 31 May, 2014) however, makes the classic mistake of (a) blaming ‘media negativity’ for the drubbing taken by the coalition parties in the local and EP elections and, consequentially, (b) exhorting the government parties to up their [...]

People vote to retain Seanad: Action on reform is warranted

The people have spoken,as the old cliché goes. Of the 1,026,374 valid cotes in the Seanad Referendum, 591, 937 voted in favour of Seanad abolition, and 634, 437 voted against. Every constituency in Dublin voted against Enda Kenny’s personal crusade to abolish the Upper House, thereby concentrating more power in the Executive, with a flimsy [...]

Irish Politics Forum – Post-mortem on the Seanad Referendum, 10 October 2013

By Jane Suiter On Friday October 4th voters will have decided whether or not to abolish Seanad Éireann. Voters Parties and Elections are delighted to invite you to an open debate on the campaign and result. It has been a colourful campaign with allegations of populism and power grabbing levelled at the government by political parties and [...]

Myopic focus on Seanad costs does no service to democracy

 Last evening I attended a public meeting on next Friday’s referendums, organised by our local Fine Gael TD, Leo Varadkar. The poster on the pole at the entrance to our housing estate advertised economist Colm McCarthy as the ‘guest speaker’. I went along, not out of any prospect of being enlightened about anything by the [...]

Democracy be damned! Abolishing the Seanad a further step towards de-democratizing our society

  Right now all the indications are that Enda Kenny’s personal pet project to eliminate  one of  key institutions of Irish democracy, the Seanad, will be endorsed by the public in the forthcoming referendum. The micro-politics of the debate on the referendum and some of its more substantive arguments include variously–: that the proposal emerged [...]

Nessa Childers resigns from Labour Party: will contest European Elections in 2014 as an Independent

  The Labour MEP for Ireland East, Nessa Childers, has announced her resignation from the party and her intention to contest the European Elections in 2014 as an Independent.

Defeat of Seanad Referendum may be only hope of achieving real political reform

The  Seanad is a ‘luxury we can no longer afford’ and its abolition offers the Irish people an opportunity to ‘make a radical difference to our political system’. So say, respectively, Minister Richard Bruton, Fine Gael’s Director of Elections for the forthcoming referendum and his Deputy Director of Elections, Meath TD, Regina Doherty. The great [...]

Labour’s problem is lack of substance, not communications

  Somebody needs to tell the Labour Party that their problem with the voters in Meath East, or anywhere else in the country, has nothing to do with ‘communications’. By the time a quarter of the boxes were opened in the count centre in Ashbourne, and the extent of the collapse in Labour’s vote was [...]

Complicated polling questions generate muddled results…. Damn Lies and Statistics

This post is written by Eoin O’Malley, political scientist at DCU, and appeared on 21 February on  It provides an excellent guide to polling questions in general as well as a valuable critique of why the findings of the recently published poll on behalf of the Pro-Life campaign, which asked what action people want [...]

Back to the 1980s – Unemployment, Economic Doom & Gloom, and Abortion. What next? Northern Ireland!

Government faces formidable challenges in 2013, and the Meath East by-election brings them all to a head Sometimes it feels like we all woke up one morning and there we were – right back to the 1980s. Lost in a decade of rampant unemployment and emigration; where the only news on the economic front is [...]

Cuts in alarms security for elderly adds to cynicism about government commitment to ‘protect the most vulnerable in our society’.

It’s all over the media this morning – how the government has targeted the most vulnerable in society in possibly the most mean-spirited of all the mean-spirited cuts in Budget 2013. From now on, social monitored personal alarms will only be made available to 65 year olds living alone, who qualify for the scheme, to [...]

The politicians’ ‘gutless’ failure to legislate on abortion is no longer acceptable

The political message of protestors on Kildare Street on Wednesday night last was clear: Irish abortion policy is a shambles, and the blame for that shambles rests at the gates of Leinster House. Whatever the outcome of investigations into the circumstances that led to the death of Savita Halappanavar in University College Hospital Galway, the [...]

Shortall Resignation: The Government needs a Doctor? Oh God no, not James Reilly!

 “This government is sick”, writes Miriam Lord in today’s Irish Times. Does it need a doctor? Not James Reilly, surely, who’s continuing his stint as lightning rod for the daily litany of woes besetting the government, of which Roisin Shortall’s shock resignation as Junior Minister in his Department is just the latest twist? Roisin Shortall’s [...]

Politburo or Poltroons? It’s hard to characterise what the government strategy signifies for the lives of citizens any more

Finally back to the Dail this week, the government is under pressure on a number of fronts, and not just in terms of the inevitable power wrangling between the big spending departments over the contents of next December’s budget. This post takes a brief look at a couple of those areas and question the approach [...]

No apology from debt default Minister for Stubbs Gazette debacle – but Government unfazed

“15 months ago, when my Government came into office, we made it one of our top priorities to restore Ireland’s international reputation,” The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, told an international medical conference at the National Conference Centre in June. Kenny and his Government tend to take every opportunity to bang the drum on the reputation issue [...]

Old election promises constrain government’s capacity to perform – but they brought it on themselves

As the Dail rises for its summer break for the second time since Fine Gael and Labour took office, the seismic election of February 2011 now seems like a long time ago. It isn’t of course. It’s only 14 months since this government took power with the biggest parliamentary majority in the history of the [...]

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