The economic crisis has thrown into stark relief the fact that our political system is not fit for purpose. Most TDs see it as their main purpose to look after the local needs of their constituents. The inevitable outcome is a Dáil & Seanad lacking the skills and focus required to deal with issues of broad national importance.
This is reflected in the outgoing government’s failure to keep a lid on the construction bubble, and its inept response when the bubble burst.
Incompetence is not the only problem with our political system. Politicians and parties have become too inclined to look after the needs of private business intersts than of the citizens whom they were elected to represent. Cronyism is rife in the appointment of members of state boards. Ministers and TDs have given themselves excessive pensions and expenses while those on low pay or dependent on social welfare have been subjected to savage cuts.
Click here to view recent posts on Political Reform
We need a root-and-branch reform of Irish politics which will:
Transfer the delivery of public services to a strong, democratic and well-funded system of local government. In most other European countries, health, education, social welfare and community services are administered at this level. In these countries, local government has a much more central role in everyday life than is the case here. This allows central government to focus on the important national issues.
Create a new electoral system which will deliver members of Dáil Éireann of top calibre, focused on broad social and political issues and committed at all times to promoting the national interest.
Establish open-ness and accountability in all areas of public life. Ministers and top public servants must take responsibility for their decisions and actions. Freedom of Information must be a core principle of the public sphere, not something to be resisted at every turn.
In sum, we need a New Politics based on basic principles of Honesty, Integrity and Accountability.