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Thread: Democracy in Ireland

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    Default Democracy in Ireland

    Article here about the evolution of democracy in Ireland from the 18th century Irish Parliament to today.

    Democracy in Ireland - A Short History

    Among its arguments are, that extension of the right to vote in 19th century Ireland was slowed by fears in Britain of how Irish Catholics would use it. The electorate was radically cut after Catholic emancipation for instance.

    That before 1918, only about 15% of the adult population had the vote.

    That despite this election giving nationalist Ireland effectively a mandate to secede from the UK, some nationalist politicians remained suspicious of democracy for a surprisngly long time - leading to highly centralised and undemocratic local government structures.

    That the 'democratic deficit in Northern Ireland prior to 1969 was one of the principle causes of conflict there.

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    Default Re: Democracy in Ireland

    Quote Originally Posted by Mpande View Post
    Article here about the evolution of democracy in Ireland from the 18th century Irish Parliament to today.

    Democracy in Ireland - A Short History

    Among its arguments are, that extension of the right to vote in 19th century Ireland was slowed by fears in Britain of how Irish Catholics would use it. The electorate was radically cut after Catholic emancipation for instance.

    That before 1918, only about 15% of the adult population had the vote.

    That despite this election giving nationalist Ireland effectively a mandate to secede from the UK, some nationalist politicians remained suspicious of democracy for a surprisngly long time - leading to highly centralised and undemocratic local government structures.

    That the 'democratic deficit in Northern Ireland prior to 1969 was one of the principle causes of conflict there.
    I've made a sticky of this thread: the linked article is a very good overview. My personal impression is that the failure of the 1798 republican rising was disastrous and we have had only stunted and divided forms of democracy since.
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre

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    Default Re: Democracy in Ireland

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Flower View Post
    I've made a sticky of this thread: the linked article is a very good overview. My personal impression is that the failure of the 1798 republican rising was disastrous and we have had only stunted and divided forms of democracy since.
    Can't argue with that much. It would have been a better place to start from anyway.

    Today in the Republic we have parliamentary democracy of course, which is a very good thing, but I would argue not a very healthy democratic culture. In other words very little prevalence of the idea that issues should be openly debated on their merits, that each citizen's ideas are as good as the next and should have a bearing on how decisions are actually made. We have much more of a culture of micro lobbying than real democracy in some ways.

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    Default Re: Democracy in Ireland

    Quote Originally Posted by Mpande View Post
    Can't argue with that much. It would have been a better place to start from anyway.

    Today in the Republic we have parliamentary democracy of course, which is a very good thing, but I would argue not a very healthy democratic culture. In other words very little prevalence of the idea that issues should be openly debated on their merits, that each citizen's ideas are as good as the next and should have a bearing on how decisions are actually made. We have much more of a culture of micro lobbying than real democracy in some ways.
    Even within the Parliament, there is little real debate and amendment of legislation. Most decisions of importance are taken by secret Cabinets within the Cabinet. As we saw from the Bank Guarantee, people of wealth can insert themselves in to decision making at a very high level, while Ministers are asleep in their beds.
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre

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    Default Re: Democracy in Ireland

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Flower View Post
    Even within the Parliament, there is little real debate and amendment of legislation. Most decisions of importance are taken by secret Cabinets within the Cabinet. As we saw from the Bank Guarantee, people of wealth can insert themselves in to decision making at a very high level, while Ministers are asleep in their beds.
    Yes and then there's the question of local government and the lack of real democracy there. County and city council get elected but the actual power (and budget) are in the hands of unelected county managers. A direct legacy of the civil war era.

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    Default Re: Democracy in Ireland

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Flower View Post
    I've made a sticky of this thread: the linked article is a very good overview. My personal impression is that the failure of the 1798 republican rising was disastrous and we have had only stunted and divided forms of democracy since.
    It was the defining failure in many ways. The Brits embedded sectarianism after its' fallout and the chance it presented from the point of view of maintaining what was then a very strong economy and probably later on, giving people a stake in such a society through not just the vote but the right to adequate living standards, and the prevention of the famine/legacy of forced emigration etc(which of course would have meant Irish would still be the main language) can in many ways be traced back to 1798 and the 1800 union act which cast a shadow we are still stuck under.

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    Default Re: Democracy in Ireland

    On a related point - that of open and accountable government;

    A Short History of Freedom of Information in Independent Ireland.

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    Default Re: Democracy in Ireland

    Quote Originally Posted by Mpande View Post
    Yes and then there's the question of local government and the lack of real democracy there. County and city council get elected but the actual power (and budget) are in the hands of unelected county managers. A direct legacy of the civil war era.
    The quangoisation (semi privatisation) of much of Irish government, dicing it up into various cash cows within which cronies could be rewarded, out of the reach of the relatively clean appointments systems of government, was a further erosion of democracy. An OECD report of the early 2000s pointed to it as a weakness of government in Ireland.

    Then we had Partnership -a dilute attempt at a corporate state - which bought off trade union bureacracies (and bolstered them up) and introduced IBEC into government policy making.

    Cowan's government made a stab at handing the drafting of financial regulation legislation over to unelected private sector reps. until interrupted by the crash, but this is still going on in different ways.

    The back door influence of the Church is another inhibitor of full democracy in Ireland.
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre

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    Default Re: Democracy in Ireland

    I would agree with the statement that we have more of a micro lobby state than a democracy. We are only a democracy in the shallowest sense that people choose who gets elected, because our representatives even if government, have very little power as all decisions are taken at cabinet level, and in many cases people in the cabinet themselves have no say. Add to that the unaccountability of the govt, the lack of referenda, the secrecy of everything most notably the budget(which is seen in Berlin before in the Dáil) the whip system etc and we are not really a democracy at all.

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    Default Re: Democracy in Ireland

    Quote Originally Posted by Mpande View Post
    Yes and then there's the question of local government and the lack of real democracy there. County and city council get elected but the actual power (and budget) are in the hands of unelected county managers. A direct legacy of the civil war era.
    More of a legacy of the 1977 Dutch Auction election where FF promised an abolition of household rates and people voted for this in droves. What was concomitant with that was a total erosion of county council powers and centralisation of powers in the Office of the Minister for the Environment. When one considers the FF Ministers for the Environment we have endured (among them Ray Burke and Pee Flynn) then perhaps in hindsight, the abolition of rates was not such a great idea after all.

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    Default Re: Democracy in Ireland

    Quote Originally Posted by Slim Buddha View Post
    More of a legacy of the 1977 Dutch Auction election where FF promised an abolition of household rates and people voted for this in droves. What was concomitant with that was a total erosion of county council powers and centralisation of powers in the Office of the Minister for the Environment. When one considers the FF Ministers for the Environment we have endured (among them Ray Burke and Pee Flynn) then perhaps in hindsight, the abolition of rates was not such a great idea after all.
    Yes that too, but going back to 1924, the CnaG government took away many of the powers of local government and replaced them with un-elected County Managers. This process was completed in the early 1940s under FF (who in spite of the fact that it was orginally directed agaisnt the anti-Treatyites of 1922-23, thought it was a great idea). The abolition of rates in 1977 took away local authorities budgets, but well before then it was not elected representatives who actually controlled the budget or its spending.

    But in fairness, if we're talking about democracy, under the rates system only rate-payers had the vote in local elections and they had more than one vote if they had more than one rate-paying property in a constituency.

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    Default Re: Democracy in Ireland

    Quote Originally Posted by Mpande View Post
    Yes that too, but going back to 1924, the CnaG government took away many of the powers of local government and replaced them with un-elected County Managers. This process was completed in the early 1940s under FF (who in spite of the fact that it was orginally directed agaisnt the anti-Treatyites of 1922-23, thought it was a great idea). The abolition of rates in 1977 took away local authorities budgets, but well before then it was not elected representatives who actually controlled the budget or its spending.

    But in fairness, if we're talking about democracy, under the rates system only rate-payers had the vote in local elections and they had more than one vote if they had more than one rate-paying property in a constituency.
    True, it was not perfect but if you deny a local authority money, you effectively emasculate it. Which was FF's intention. And it worked so well that even Thatcher was impressed and did the same in 1986 to Ken Livingstone et al.

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    Default Re: Democracy in Ireland

    Completely unaccountable sale of Irish assets at fire sale prices.

    http://namawinelake.wordpress.com/20...s-unfortunate/

    Government behind closed doors.
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre

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