Reforming Ireland

Reform is the name of the game these days. Electoral reform. Public sector reform. Parliamentary reform.

I laughed myself sick when I saw Fianna Fáil’s new proposals for reform, now that they’re out of office and won’t be able to profit from cronyism and clientelism for a while. I laughed because it was funny, but the sickness came because their proposals are right, and should have been implemented years ago. Even when making constructive proposals, Fianna Fáil can’t help being cynical: they knew this was the direction Ireland needed, and yet, despite being in government for so long, they did nothing to begin the process until it was plain that they were facing total defeat in the polls.

Suddenly it’s possible to co-opt people into the cabinet to provide the skills necessary to run the country. Suddenly, it’s possible to make ministers independent of constituency pressures – something that would never have worked when gobshites like P Flynn and Bull O Donoghue and Batt the Waffler O Keeffe were showering largesse on the local voters who kept them in office at the expense of constituencies without a minister. So much for a national vision.

Suddenly, in the FF proposal, it’s possible to do away with the pernicious multi-seat constituency that sends glorified county councillors to our parliament and encourages ward-heelers like Willie O Dea to pound the pavements, haunting every stranger’s funeral and christening within pint-buying distance of a public house.

Suddenly it’s all possible – including normal office hours for Dáil sittings.

Isn’t it amazing what becomes possible when the country sees your party as nothing more than a conspiracy of traitors and thieves?

Of course, it isn’t only Fianna Fál pushing reform these days.

Honest people are also talking about it and doing something about it. Two researchers – Joe Curtin and Johnny Ryan – are developing a scorecard with the backing of a panel of leading academics, aiming to measure how well the political parties follow through on their promises to implement reform. (Irish Times articles here and here)

The five areas covered are Legislation, elections, transparency, local government and the public service.

Watch this space. I’ll report progress as it happens.

If you’ve been a frequent visitor here, you’ll know that I’ve been arguing for fundamental reform since this site was started five years ago.   In that time, we’ve been shown a vision of Ireland that is neither pretty nor hopeful. Everything from our policing structure to our education system and our healthcare seems to be broken, dysfunctional, corrupt or moribund. Clerics retain an unwarranted degree of influence in the most vital areas such as education and health. Vested interests, including the bankers, have demonstrated that they hold our political leaders by the throat. Doctors and lawyers dictate terms to the State.

Therefore, it seems to me that in addition to the five areas identified by Reformcard, we need to look at fundamental change within our society at every level. We need to look at our naive and childish belief that a politician can help us to jump the queue. We need to re-examine the unquestioned belief that professionals such as doctors, dentists and lawyers are entitled to demand extortionate prices for their services and that poor people are automatically excluded from those services. We need to question why unqualified priests are in control of our primary schools. We need to ask why this State is not a partner in the consortiums extracting energy resources from our territorial waters.

We need to ask why €40 billion of our money has been given to a pair of scams: Anglo-Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide.

These and many more questions need to be asked, and out of the answers we need reform.

We need to decommission the mindset that got us where we are and start acting like grown adults for a change.  When the candidates call to your door, don’t ask about potholes.  That’s a job for your local councillor.

Ask them what their vision is for a new Ireland.   The old one doesn’t work any more, and I doubt it ever did.

The other option is another five years of this:

16 replies on “Reforming Ireland”

Cheers for the plug Bock! The academic panel deserve an honourable mention too – they are giving up their free time to pore through the parties’ manifestos.

FYI – the panel are Dr Elaine Byrne, TCD; Prof David Farrell, UCD; Dr Clodagh Harris, UCC; Dr Eoin O’Malley, DCU; Prof Gary Murphy, DCU; Dr Theresa Reidy, UCC; Dr Jane Suiter, UCC

Bock, you’re at your best when you eschew the expletives! Regarding using politicians to jump the queue – I once heard a story about a County Councillor who when at County Hall for a CC meeting would visit administrators’ desks and move to the top of the pile those applications he had promised to pursue. Apparently, he was unaware that as soon as he had departed the files were moved back to their original positions.

Haven’t Fianna-Grianna Fail already done over the local government system? Wasn’t there a much-vaunted process called ‘Better Local Government’ introduced around 2001, which spawned amongst other things, these unaccountable and omnipotent beings called Directors Of Services? Didn’t it create thousands of senior management posts without ever explaining how they should report to each other? Didn’t it give fantastic golden parachutes to obsolete County Secretaries and County Engineers (one local of whom was no great loss) to fuck off into the private sector and schmooze a few public contracts from their former underlings? Didn’t they do away with the dual mandate to get more people into paid politics, yet required that all the documentation of local authorities be given to all local oireachtas members so they knew how the parish pump was pumping, and fuck the cost of it? Didn’t they build monstrous reinforced-concrete temples of vanity all over the country at enormous expense and inefficiency so that could travel the world first class entering architecture competitions which they didn’t stand a chance of winning in most cases?

And this is the FF which fatally torpedoed the local government of Ireland by axing rates and road tax in 1977, farm rates in 1982, and water charges latterly? Just imagine how good our local services would be, and how reasonable would be the cost, and how carefully we’d choose councillors, if all the celtic tiger houses were rated and paying for their water pro rata.

Jesus, if they do that again…


I have been laid low with an illness for past week , So I decided to research every Candidate in my Electoral area.
Total despair in addition to illness.

Not 1, Not even 1 single Candidate that I could, Even with my feelings of responsibility to vote in this Election, Can I in conscience give a vote to.

What to do ?

I think Reformcard is a very worthwhile movement but can it do anything to halt the runaway train ?

I did discover one total nutter who makes Jackie Healy Rae look like a Liberal Activist, Goes by the name of JJ McCabe………….frightening !

I just wondered looking at the election poster of Healy Ray should these posters be required to carry a warning similar to cigarette packets….WARNING VOTING FOR GOBSHITES CAN SERIOUSLY DAMAGE YOUR FUTURE .

FF propose to end the golden handshake for failed ministers…………. Brilliant, inspirational, ground breaking.
Only after Mick Martin and the rest of the incopetent treacherous sleveens take their severance payments.

I was wondering, could we send the US over for some cleaning then get it back? Just from the neck to the navel. We have to keep some crooks around, you know, for balance and balast. There’s a good chance you may want to keep a few there, maybe try them for murder or something, you know, nothing too drastic, just Clinton and Weill to start?

I hear Sinn Fein is going to take 1/3 of the seats up in the election and try to stop the bleeding. No pun intended. We got the Tea Party maniacs. I am hopeful for Ireland rising up like Egypt, not like Kansas. You have a semblence of social democracy, we have swindling puppeteers who want everything returned asap to the richest of the rich in charge.

Tim. The vast difference between Ireland and Egypt in this current climate is that Egypt have garnered a collective spirit crossing all levels of their society , Professionals / Factory workers / students / actors / writers / business owners etc etc, We seem to have lost that , If in fact we ever had it.

I was watching a report on unfolding events in Egypt the other day and the man being interviewed used the terms Cronyism / Reform / Transparancy / Corruption , I did wonder if Bertie and Cowan had found new roles as advisors to Mubarak.

Im so sick of hearing from people how they want to know what proposed candidates will do for their particular cause / needs , We seem to have no grasp at all on the bigger picture , We are selfish voters , All the crap we rant about on this site seems to be what the Irish people in general want and will continue to get as long as personal responsibility is avoided and collective change not voiced.

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