Reflections on the People's Dail by Liam OConnor

The People have heard the news,  the People have spoken.
 You might not like what they said……..but they ain’t joking”

Neil Young – Songwriter.


The Irish people have selected the members of the 2016 Dail.  We want them to consider the issues, debate solutions, and pass laws on our behalf.  Constantly we hear a government cannot be formed “because of the awkward results” we handed the parliamentarians.  

It’s not difficult.  The people voted for change.  We want a different politics.  It’s just that some of the old school party-types cannot get their heads around the message.  For close to 100 years we have been rules either by FF or FG.  The currently proposed “obvious answer” is to be ruled by both together. 

Close, but no cigar.  The people don’t care what party a politician belongs to.  We voted for the candidates we thought would serve us best.  It’s not a team sport, with issues (Health, Housing, etc) to be kicked around like a football to give party advantage.  We the people have moved beyond all that.  This is clear from the rise of the independents over the last two elections.  If we go for a follow-on election in 2016, I expect (hope) that FF & FG will both get even LESS seats.  SF are keeping a low profile, thinking support will swing to them, but I’m not sure.  The come for the old (un)civil war tradition also.  We have spoken - “All changed, utterly changed”,  Or so I hope.

We want a government that signs up to a PROGRAMME, not a party. We need people to bring publically to the floor proposals related to the big issues (a menu of options), and all 158 members to cast their vote on the best way forward. 

There are many big issues that impact on the lives of people today, and on their future.  We need thoughtful speeches, and proposals for change on all of these.  The 158 members of the Dail could vote on the proposed changes – issue by issue, not some well-times game of raising the topic when it will embassess the other shower. 

Forget the past.  Forget the promises.  You have been sent to govern for the good of the people. I trust that after debate and consideration, the best possible choices could be made, starting from where we are now.  

We need some political reforms that will bring the people's issues center stage.

Interestingly, one of the largest blocks (43 TDs) support the concept of giving citizens the right to propose legislation, or to veto bad legislation (aka “citizen’s Initiatives”).  This was a reform item recommended by 83% of the Constitutional Convention.  Such a provision in our democracy would provide balance between the people and the parliament (democratic equality).  It would move the focus away from the PARTY, and onto the POLICIES (i.e. solving the people’s issues), because if the elected representatives don't get the focus right, then the people will do it for themselves.

There is no reason not to start the ball rolling RIGHT NOW ! 
The first step in doing this is to form a citizen’s assembly to design how we would implement such “people power” : Would we use electronic voting on our phones ? How many signatures would you need to get a referendum circulated? How long a gap before the same topic can be raised a second time? All these questions can be addressed by a citizen's assembly, ifthe Dail is willing to act now.

All 158 members of the Dail can debate this important initiative right now. It's a non-party issue.

Let’s get to work guys !

By Liam OConnor