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Old July 12th, 2012, 04:53 PM   #1
odlum833
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Constitutional Convention

So plans nearly ready to go on the constitutional convention


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Convention will be vehicle for profound social reform

ENDA KENNY and EAMON GILMORE

OPINION: The Taoiseach and the Tánaiste welcome a mechanism to close the lingering gap between people and politics

POLITICS IS about people. The political system needs to listen to the views of the electorate and recognise the reality of people’s lives. Many believe that a disconnection has arisen between politics and wider society. This week we are moving resolutions in the Dáil and Seanad approving the calling of a constitutional convention, which we believe can go a significant way towards bridging that gap.

The programme for government contains a commitment to creating a process to better equip our Constitution to meet the challenges of the 21st century. The setting up of the convention fulfils this commitment. It is an important and exciting initiative and it represents an innovative approach to examining constitutional reform – one that has never been tried before in this country.

Prior to moving the resolutions, we have held two rounds of consultation with Opposition representatives. Views expressed during that process were taken into account in finalising the arrangements for the convention.

The convention will be asked to consider a range of matters, covering both institutional and social issues. Initially, it will examine reducing the presidential term of office to five years and aligning it with the local and European elections, and reducing the voting age to 17. It is intended that the convention will report on these two items within two months of its first public hearing and this will provide an opportunity to review its operation in the light of experience.

Over the next year or so, the convention will also review the Dáil electoral system; giving citizens resident outside the State the right to vote in presidential elections at Irish embassies or otherwise; making provision in the Constitution for same-sex marriage; amending the clause on the role of women in the home and encouraging greater participation of women in public life; increasing the participation of women in politics; and removal of the offence of blasphemy from the Constitution.

Following completion of reports on these matters, the convention will have the opportunity to make such other recommendations for constitutional reform as it sees fit.

The convention will be made up of 100 members and the independent chairperson will be nominated shortly. In addition, there will be 66 members of the public and 33 elected representatives – drawn from the Houses of the Oireachtas and a parliamentarian from each of the parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly that accepts an invitation from the Government to participate in the work of the convention.

The members of the public will be selected randomly, using the electoral register, and will be broadly representative of society in terms of gender, age, regional balance, etc.

This is a terrific opportunity for members of the public to become involved in this important innovation in public life and we would encourage anybody who is approached to participate in the convention to take the opportunity to contribute to this exciting development.

Training will be provided for all members for the first meeting, and as required during the course of the year, to ensure that everyone can play a full part in the proceedings.

It is intended that the convention will complete its work within one year of its first public meeting, which is expected to take place in September.

A very important aspect of the convention is that the Government has publicly committed to responding to each recommendation from the convention within four months. We will arrange for a debate in the Houses of the Oireachtas in each case. Where the Government accepts the recommendation, we will indicate the timeframe we envisage for the holding of the referendum.

This approach, we believe, addresses one of the main criticisms of previous attempts to initiate constitutional reform. In the past, after much excellent work – for example, by various Oireachtas committees and the Constitutional Review Group – the ensuing reports were often left to gather dust on the shelf.

The approach we are adopting demonstrates the extent of our commitment to this new and innovative strategy for constitutional reform.

Before making our response to each recommendation, the Government will of course fulfil the obligation that every government has in relation to proposals for constitutional change: first, to consider the proposal carefully and, second, to ensure as far as possible that the aim of the proposal is achieved without this leading to any unintended consequences.

The wide-ranging nature of the topics to be considered by the convention is likely to require a significant amount of work for the members.

An expert advisory group will be established to assist the convention in its endeavours and will provide specialist guidance on the variety of issues to be examined.

This support from leading academics, political scientists and constitutional lawyers will be a critical factor in the success of the convention and we very much look forward to their contribution over the next year.

The convention will also welcome submissions from the diverse range of groups and organisations who have already expressed an interest in its work programme.

It is expected that many of these groups will have the opportunity to present their views directly to the convention and we are sure that the members can look forward to many robust debates as they consider the full spectrum of representative opinion.

Much of the convention’s work will be done via a new website, which will be launched shortly. It is expected that the convention’s working papers and various submissions will be available to the public, in line with the commitment to a transparent and interactive forum.

Meetings of the convention will also be webcast live.

The convention will be anxious to hear from all strands of society at home and abroad, so people will have the opportunity to make a submission or contribute to the general debate on a number of different platforms during the course of the next year.

The success of the convention will depend to a large extent on the level of engagement with the general public, so we urge any citizen with an opinion to get in touch with it.

The Government wishes the convention well as it undertakes an important mission on behalf of the Irish people.

We look forward to an all-inclusive debate on issues of profound importance to our State and society.

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/...319791935.html
Quote:
The Irish Times - Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Constitutional body set to be inclusive as gender, age and region figure highly


THE 66 ordinary citizens taking part in the 100-member constitutional convention are to be chosen on balance between gender, age and regional origin.

Oireachtas members of the body will reflect parliamentary strengths and so, predominantly, come from the Fine Gael and Labour ranks.

There will be 33 elected representatives, including some from Northern Ireland, as well as the independent chair.

Age-groups in this category are likely to be represented as follows, with equal numbers of men and women: 12 between 18 and 24 years; 26 between 25 and 44; 18 from 45 to 64; and 10 aged over 65 years.

Regional representation is expected to be as follows, again on a gender and age-balanced basis: 20 from Dublin; 17 from Leinster; 18 from Munster; and 11 from Connacht-Ulster.

In today’s Irish Times, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore confirm that training will be provided for members for the first meeting and during the year so that everyone can play a full part. They write that it is intended that the convention complete its work within one year of its first public meeting, expected to take place in September.

Meanwhile, more than 60 organisations are protesting against their exclusion from membership of the body and have signed a Civil Society Charter for a Constitutional Convention.

They include Amnesty International, Concern, Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), Irish Refugee Council, National Traveller Women’s Forum, National Women’s Council of Ireland and Transparency International.

The organisations are calling on the Government to create a convention that is “participative, inclusive and meaningful. Sufficient resources should be made available to facilitate . . . meaningful consultation with, education of, and participation by members of the public, civil society and other interested stakeholders.

“An open and transparent appointments process should ensure that membership of the Convention is balanced, representative,” states the charter.

“The express exclusion of civil society from the constitutional convention is simply not good enough,” said director of the ICCL Mark Kelly. “The wide range of signatories to today’s charter is a measure of the real anger and disappointment felt across Ireland at the Government’s failure to deliver on what it promised before the election – a credible, accessible and effective forum for constitutional reform.”

Criticising the terms of the Dáil resolution for the convention, executive director of Amnesty International Ireland Colm O’Gorman said: “The resolution being brought forward today only allows for the convention to consider other constitutional amendments once the Government’s current list of issues is complete.

“Why, once again, are the human rights of people living in Ireland placed at the back of the queue?”

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/...319793262.html

The convention will be looking at many controversial and some not controversial issues with a view to amending the constitution.

It will be made up of 100 members

66 random members of the public across all different profile groups

The will be 33 elected representatives including 1 place from each party in Stormont

(20 from Dublin; 17 from Leinster; 18 from Munster; and 11 from Connacht-Ulster)


What do you think of this?
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Last edited by odlum833; July 12th, 2012 at 05:05 PM.
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Old July 14th, 2012, 01:06 PM   #2
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Hopefully its more then a talking shop. I have an awful feeling that with "ordinary" citizens involved we will end up with loads of populist but utterly impractacle suggestions.

Also, I have a sneaking suspicion that there will be some examination of North/South relations which whilst well meaning will only benefit SF. For example, they are suggesting that Northern Citizens be allowed to vote in Presidential and other elections in the South. This was raised during the last Presidential election and it was clear some sections of Southern politics and media were afraid to comment negatively for the risk of being branded "west brits" and all the other green flag rubbish thrown at anybody who questions SF.

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Old July 14th, 2012, 01:43 PM   #3
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In theory it's a good idea, but unfortunately the convention's mandate is going to be incredibly limited. Looking at things such as same-sex marriage and emigrant voting rights are indeed important, other issues (such as reducing the presidential term) aren't as much. Most importantly, it doesn't seem like it'll be looking at the relationship between the legislature and executive (the separation of powers, that is), or whether or not we should have 'expert' ministers who aren't TDs (like most European countries bar Ireland and the UK have).

Nonetheless, it's a step in the right direction and will hopefully give us a chance to modernise a document that has served us quite well since the 1930s.
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Old July 14th, 2012, 06:44 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Catmalojin View Post
emigrant voting rights are indeed important
How would that work though? Are we going to have all those people who are Irish or who claim to be deciding who governs the people living here? There are alot of Irish people who would be entitled to an Irish passport outside Ireland.


And also surely since people in the North are entitled to an Irish passport you would have to extend the vote there aswell!
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Old July 15th, 2012, 01:26 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by odlum833 View Post
How would that work though? Are we going to have all those people who are Irish or who claim to be deciding who governs the people living here? There are alot of Irish people who would be entitled to an Irish passport outside Ireland.


And also surely since people in the North are entitled to an Irish passport you would have to extend the vote there aswell!
That's why it's important to look at it, to figure it out.

My own preference (due to the issues you bring up) would be to allow emigrants (citizens who have lived in the Republic and have left) to vote in their old constituency via postal ballot or at embassies/consulates, possibly for a certain number of years after they have left (say ten years).
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Old July 15th, 2012, 02:50 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Catmalojin View Post
That's why it's important to look at it, to figure it out.

My own preference (due to the issues you bring up) would be to allow emigrants (citizens who have lived in the Republic and have left) to vote in their old constituency via postal ballot or at embassies/consulates, possibly for a certain number of years after they have left (say ten years).
I have Slovak and Polish friends who voted in their respective GEs at the Embassy in Dublin. Poland, due to its large domestic population would be less effected by an overseas vote, however, to illustrate its importance Donald Tusk actually came to Ireland and the UK to campaign in 2008.

I am not sure if there is an expiration date for the Countries above, but, I think you are correct in proposing one for Ireland. Given our history there is a danger that the overseas vote could actually swamp the domestic vote!
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Old July 15th, 2012, 05:58 PM   #7
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Ireland should in that case be more careful about how many passports it is willing to dish out. Voting for your country's leadership if you are a citizen of that country should be a right regardless of where you live (imo)
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Old July 16th, 2012, 02:55 PM   #8
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I think the inclusion of gay marriage in the convention is unfair to be honest. Its great that there is popular support, but I dont think people should be voting on the rights of others, its an absurb situation. Not an ideal world though I suppose.
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Old July 16th, 2012, 03:59 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by saoró... View Post
I think the inclusion of gay marriage in the convention is unfair to be honest. Its great that there is popular support, but I dont think people should be voting on the rights of others, its an absurb situation. Not an ideal world though I suppose.
I agree, though to me it appears that the Convention is a way for certain government ministers (those lacking the balls to admit they support it) to pawn off the issue to a different body, then going to referendum on that body's recommendations alone (rather than their own idea). Same can be said for the 'expert group' on abortion that was set up.

Basically, they're trying to save the elderly/religious vote. Which is pathetic when it comes to rights issues.
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Old July 16th, 2012, 09:54 PM   #10
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Yeah, its a shame really. For a leader, the taoiseach has pretty poor leadership skills.
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Old July 16th, 2012, 10:10 PM   #11
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Hold on, didn't Enda go over to Europe and bang his fist on the table. That's what the government press service said anyway
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Old December 1st, 2012, 02:57 PM   #12
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Inaugural meeting today. Lets see what ideas are thrown around.

Linky

https://www.constitution.ie/OnlineStreaming.aspx
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