We, the Irish people, will have the final say on national policy whenever we feel it is necessary to do so, in the interests of the common good. We will do so using Citizen Initiatives.
WHAT ARE CITIZEN INITIATIVES?
Citizen Initiatives are a mechanism with four mains cogs. Each cog enables citizens to do something unique. They would enable citizens to directly:
1) Veto/Block new legislation (Article 47, 1922 Constitution)
2) Propose new legislation (Article 48)
3) Amend/repeal existing legislation (Article 48)
4) Initiate a referendum to amend the Constitution without prior approval from Government (Article 48)
If a citizen wanted to instruct the Government to do any of the above, the citizen would start a citizen initiative. The citizen would need the support of a pre determined number of other citizens who are also in favour of the instruction to Government. This would be achieved by the introduction of a formal/official process for gathering signatures from citizens in the form of a petition. When the required number of signatures are gathered within the pre determined period of time, the Government would be constitutionally and legally obligated to review and act on the instruction set out in the petition within a specified period of time. If the Government did not act and adhere to the instruction within the specified period of time, this would automatically trigger a national referendum. The referendum would provide the Irish people with the opportunity to have the final say on the matter.
This is a non partisan initiative with no connection to any political party or organisation. It does not receive funding from any organisation. Our aim is to bring together the Irish people, irrespective of their political views and allegiances, in support of a two-step process to improve the Irish political system. We want to see Citizen Initiatives (modern versions of Articles 47 & 48 of the 1922 Constitution) put back into the Constitution. We will do so using the One Year Initiative.
WHAT IS THE ONE YEAR INITIATIVE
The One Year Initiative is the name for a two-step plan to put the Citizen Initiatives mechanism into the Constitution in one year (hence the name One Year Initiative). The two steps are as follows:
STEP 1 of the One Year Initiative - A CITIZENS’ ASSEMBLY
A Government sponsored Citizens’ Assembly would be launched and meet for the period of ‘one year’ Its sole purpose is to design the mechanism for Citizen Initiatives within one year. (The assembly would determine the how the mechanism would work for Ireland. Eg: How many signatures would be required for a Citizen Initiative, the time period in which must signatures be gathered etc) Citizen Initiatives were in the 1922 Irish Constitution. The assembly would design modern versions of Articles 47 & 48 (Citizen Initiatives) that were in the 1922 Irish Constitution.
a) Citizen Initiatives to directly veto legislation - (Article 47)
b) Citizen Initiatives to directly initiate, amend and repeal legislation and the Constitution. (Article 48)
STEP 2 of the One Year Initiative - A REFERENDUM
After the period of one year and the assembly has designed the new Citizen Initiatives mechanism, the Government would subsequently hold a national referendum. The Irish people would have the opportunity to review the new mechanism and decide if they want to put it into the Irish Constitution.
Here are a couple of very short videos to help explain what the One Year Initiative is all about. There are lots more information on the Info & Videos page and Questions & Answers pages.
WHAT is the problem?
There is total reliance on a political system that is no longer fit for purpose.
WHY is it a problem?
There are three major reasons why our political system is failing:
The Irish political system used in Ireland today means the power and decision-making process is entirely in the hands of representatives who are elected by the people once every five (5) years. However, this system also allows governments to make decisions against the will of the same people who elected and entrusted them to manage the country on their behalf. Promises are made to constituents and then, when elected, governments renege and implement policies and laws irrespective of the views and against the will of the people of Ireland. The problem is further exacerbated by a whip system that requires an elected representative to vote according to the party of which they are members. They do this regardless of the will of the constituency they were elected to represent.
The Irish political system allows politicians to make decisions knowing they won’t be held accountable for their actions. For example, during the previous Government term, sixty-four percent (64%) of all new legislation was guillotined - pushed through the system. Basically, due to the political system the political parties in government are able to introduce legislation irrespective as to what opposition says never mind what the public thinks. This means they can introduce legislation that could have serious implications in the future but no one can be held accountable because the political system gives the power to politicians to do so.
3 Lack of Citizen Empowerment
Ireland is a modern society with an educated population who are capable of making decisions in regards to matters that affect them and the Irish people as a whole. Unfortunately the political system only provides the people an opportunity to make decisions approximately once every five years. As a result, the issues impacting society are aggregated at General Elections and therefore many individual issues do not receive the necessary discussion and attention they require. Subsequently, a Government can be elected, begin implementing policy that ignores or contradicts the wishes of the people and the people of Ireland have no way to stop Government. Ultimately, the current system only provides an opportunity for the people to hold the politicians in Government to account in another five years.
WHO can fix this problem?
You can! This is an opportunity for anyone who wants change to come together and support something that can improve Irish society and politics. Individuals can continue supporting their political party or politician if they wish. It doesn’t matter what your political, social, economic or environmental views and opinions are. This solution allows every person to get involved in pursuit of an equal and just society. This initiative will focus on uniting people in support of one objective: a referendum-constitutional amendment to provide the people with more power to hold politicians / Government to account.
HOW can this problem be fixed?
In order to achieve the fairest and most inclusive political system and therefore a more just and equal society, some key improvements are required:
1) Empower The People
Enhance our political system to ensure any member of the public has an opportunity to intervene and contribute to national decisions about the country whenever they feel it necessary to do so.
It would provide a democracy that strives to create opportunities for all members of a population to make meaningful contributions to decision-making, and seeks to broaden the range of people who have access to such opportunities. This is not the case with the current political paradigm.
2) Citizen Initiatives - People Initiated Referenda
Other countries around the world enjoy a tried and tested system that ensures power ultimately remains with the people rather than elected representatives. A key element of the system are Citizen Initiatives / People Initiated Referenda. These enable any citizen to veto legislation, initiative legislation and a referendum without the consent of elected representatives and even in opposition to government decisions.
Having citizen initiatives included in the Irish Constitution would complement our political system. It would provide a safeguard for legislation made by any government against the will of the people. Ireland is a modern, educated nation. Citizen Initiatives would not weaken our democracy. On the contrary, it would begin a shift towards a democracy where government worked with the people rather than working for the people.
Introducing this process in lieu of the Irish political system would significantly enhance political decision-making and democracy in Ireland. It would allow Irish citizens to engage and participate in the decision-making of the country if they wish to do so.
2a) Public Power to VETO legislation
As outlined, the introduction of Citizen Initiatives would provide citizens with the power to VETO government legislation.
Currently, in Ireland, political parties use the party whip to ensure its members do what they are told by the party irrespective of the wishes of the people. If the introduction of Citizen Initatives were implemented in Ireland, it would create accountability from elected representatives. Instead of having no say between elections, the people become the whip for all elected political parties and politicians.
Ultimately it means that if politicians tried to introduce legislation against the will of the people, the people can constitutionally trigger a mechanism that will prevent government from doing so without a decision being made by the people by referendum.
Simply put, if the people had Citizen Initiatives to complement the current political system, it would mean elected representatives would manage the country’s affairs with the approval of the people. If, however, elected politicians tried to force through legislation against the will of it's citizens, there would be a process that allowed those citizens to legally stop them.
The process to VETO legislation would not be complicated. A citizen would gather signatures from X% of the voting population who support the citizen’s request. When the signatures are gathered, the government will be compelled under law to stop / suspend the implementation of the legislation. If a satisfactory resolution cannot be established between those who initiated the veto (who are against the legislation) and the Government, then the Government will be compelled to bring the legislation to the people to decide the outcome by voting in a referendum.
2b) Public Power to INITIATE legislation & Constitutional Amendments
As outlined, the introduction of Citizen Initiatives would provide citizens with the power to INITIATE new legislation and Constitutional amendments.
It is likely that at some point you have been dissatisfied with some aspect of Irish society and thought to yourself “Why hasn’t someone done something about that”. The power to initiate new legislation and constitutional amendments would provide you as a citizen with a process to do something that is subsequently written into law.
3) Revision of the current Referendum process
If Ireland introduced Citizen Initiatives to the Irish Constitution, the referendum process should also be revised and improved. For example:
Enhance and improve measures that would ensure the media always report equally both sides of the referendum.
All official documentation should include the Pro’s and Con’s on voting both “Yes” and “No” prior to voting on the referendum. (These pro’s and con’s should be reviewed and agreed upon by a larger subset of the population rather than a government body.)
There should be an introduction of a minimum time period before a second referendum could be held on the same question.
Is this possible?
Do you know that all the political parties / alliances in Ireland know the political system is broken? Here are some extracts from the main political party manifestos
Fine Gael [Page 2 Fine Gael Manifesto 2011]
Behind the wreckage of our banking system, our health service, our public finances and the jobs market, lies a cosy culture of cronyism and low standards that infiltrated the top of our political and public service systems under recent Governments.
It is a culture that abandoned the principles underpinning the Republic by distorting the power and resources of the State for the benefit of the few, not the many. It allowed special interests to crowd out the public interest. It pushed the interests of citizens behind those of powerful elites.
What are also needed are fundamental changes in the structures and systems of the State itself to improve the quality of governance experienced by the country. It is these fundamental changes that form the basis of this manifesto, all linked together by a 5-Point Plan that will: 5) Overhaul the way our political system works to stamp out cronyism and low standards.
Labour [Page 42 Labour Manifesto 2011]
Labour’s pledge is that Ireland will never again be vulnerable to the kinds of abuses of corporate and political power that have risked our country’s sovereignty. To restore confidence at home and abroad in public governance, Ireland must make significant changes in the culture and framework within which business is conducted.
That applies both to the formal rules of corporate governance and to the relationship between money and politics. Labour will rid Ireland of its ‘Crony Capitalism’ image, and restore trust in our democracy.
Fianna Fail [Page 31 Fianna Fail Manifesto 2011]
It is absolutely clear that no significant programme of political reform which involves amending the constitution can succeed without a real engagement with citizens during the process of drafting proposals. There are many ideas for how this can be achieved but none have yet been proven. It is important to avoid a situation where expert advisers become disproportionately influential in framing debate and drafting recommendations.
Sinn Fein [Page 33 Sinn Fein Manifesto 2011]
The political system has failed the people of Ireland.....
The political system is dominated and corrupted by the privileged, paralysed by clientelism and dynastic politics, and resistant to change. The Oireachtas has consistently failed to exert sufficient scrutiny over the Government and public bodies.
Sinn Fein believes that it is time for fundamental political reform. The current system is not fit for purpose.
THE PLAN EXISTS
If you support this way forward and would like to see these changes introduced in Ireland, the good news is: you can! This solution is totally achievable. Please don’t consider this change far-fetched. All the main political parties recognise the need for change so much so, they all talk about it in their General Election manifestos. This however does not happen because our political system is structured so that there are no consequences for reneging on election promises.
The other good news is the process to change the political system already exists and has both public support and cross political support. A motion to implement the One Year Initiative (1Yi) is already on the Order of business in the Dáil and Seanad. The One Year Initiative has a clearly defined two step plan that politicians can follow so that a referendum to vote on the constitutional amendment can take place. The plan ensures citizens participate in designing this new mechanism for Citizen Initiatives / People Initiated Referenda. It just needs the public to inform their political representatives that they require them to support the motion.
One very important point to note is that Citizen Initiatives have also been discussed at both of the Citizens’ Assemblies in 2013 & 2018. Unsurprisingly, the members of both assemblies voted overwhelming in favour of Citizen Initiatives.
It is clear that people are tired and disillusioned with the level of corruption, deceit, and cronyism within Irish politics. The people have become educated and can think for themselves. The people want change and are ready for change. This is clearly evident by the levels of public unrest and protests on a variety of issues. It’s also one of the reasons why a number of new political parties are being announced. Whilst new political parties introduce fresh political ideas, the fact remains that the people have no means to hold the elected politicians accountable.
The One Year Initiative is different.
This initiative has one specific purpose. It does not discriminate against any Political Party or Independent politician. The purpose of the initiative is to ensure that all future governments truly represent the people, become accountable to the people, and give the power back to the people.
If you want to be part of One Year Initiative, there are only three things left to do:
1. Tell Others
Start talking about the initiative and sharing it with your family, friends and acquaintances. Let’s make this a red-line issue. Let us, the people of Ireland, make Citizen Initiatives / People-Initiated Referenda the number one condition to support any politician.
2. Show Your Support
This is the most important aspect. We need your support. If you support the One Year Initiative, please request and only support a politician who declares their support to give more power to the people. If they will not declare their support, it clearly means they DO NOT want change. The people have been taken for fools for too long. It’s time to upgrade the political system that supports everyone instead of the few.
3. Implementation Plan
We want the Government to establish an independent People’s Assembly to begin the process of managing the referendum. The People’s Assembly would be made up of approximately one hundred members of the public from across each county in Ireland. The assembly will be a random selection of those who wish to participate. Ideally, it will be a cross section of Irish society and include stay-at-home-moms, farmers, community workers, public servants, unemployed, the private sector, small business owners, public representatives, as well as project managers. Too often, government projects do not progress quickly due to politics, lack of skills and lack of management. This project must become one of the most successful projects in Irish history.
A Summary of the Implementation Process
Raise public awareness and demand support from all the politicians.
The elected representatives support a joint Dáil motion calling for the government to establish an Independent People’s Assembly. The Citizens’ Assembly will devise the mechanism to for Citizen Initiatives / People-Initiated Referenda
The Citizens’ Assembly will be a representation of Irish society. It would be made up of approximately one hundred members of the public from across each county in Ireland. It would include citizens from every walk of life who wish to participate. Ideally, it will be a cross section of Irish society and include stay-at-home-moms, farmers, community workers, public servants, unemployed, the private sector, small business owners, public representatives, as well as project managers. It would also include four of the One Year Initiative campaign volunteers.
A position on the People’s Assembly will have no preconditions. Anyone who wishes to participate will have the opportunity to do so if they have been randomly selected. The names will be drawn randomly from the electoral register in each county in Ireland and in proportion to the population. (A minimum of two delegates per county) The campaign volunteers who wish to participate will be decided by a majority vote by the registered campaign volunteers.
The People’s Assembly will have responsibility for devising a process outlining how Citizen Initiatives / People Initiated Referenda will work in practice. This will include details from the moment a citizen feels it necessary to initiate a referendum right through to the point in time when the referendum will take place. The assembly will invite the appropriate political and legal experts to present and advise on the various aspects prior to the assembly agreeing what is best for Ireland. Guests should include International experts from Switzerland, Italy and representation of the six counties.
There will be a completely independent chairperson for the assembly and the minutes of each forum will be made available after each meeting. Ideally, the meetings will be streamed live for those who wish to watch meetings in real-time.
The legal experts will formulate the Constitutional amendments based upon the mechanism agreed by the assembly.
The public representatives will take the appropriate action to ensure the Bill passes through each of the legislative process to initiate the referendum on the constitutional amendments.
The referendum will be held with citizens knowing the exact mechanism if the majority of people in Ireland vote and decide to introduce Citizen Initiatives / People Initiated Referenda into the Irish Constitution.
A referendum like no other could be held in Ireland. The referendum will present a change to the Irish Constitution. An upgrade to the political system will be presented to the people of Ireland from the people of Ireland. Every Irish citizen will have the privilege to vote and secure Ireland’s future forever.
We ask you to please consider all of the above and particularly the benefits to you, your family and our future generations.