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TheJournal.ie’s progress report for the Government: Constitutional reform

Political reform was a hot topic in the election that saw Fine Gael and Labour take power. So what’s happened since?

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

1) WHAT THEY SAID DURING THE 2011 ELECTION CAMPAIGN

  • Fine Gael pledged to hold a referendum “within 12 months of assuming office” on the abolition of the Seanad and other reforms relating to the Dáil, the Presidency and the judicial system. The party also said it would reduce the voting age to 17, and give Irish citizens abroad the right to vote in presidential elections.
  • Labour’s manifesto stated that it would hold a referendum on gay marriage rights. It promised to “ask a people’s convention to draw up a new Constitution setting out the aspirations, the values and the rules that Irish people want to live by now.”
  • Both parties pledged a referendum on children’s rights.

2) WHAT THEY PROMISED IN THE PROGRAMME FOR GOVERNMENT

  • The coalition committed to “prioritise” referendums on the abolition of Seanad and the introduction of Oireachtas inquiries; and another to “protect the right of citizens to communicate in confidence with public representatives”.
  • The commitments to referendums on judges’ pay and children’s rights were also included.
  • The government pledged to create a Constitutional Convention, to report within 12 months on a number of issues including the electoral system, same-sex marriage, blasphemy, and reduction of the voting age.

3) PROGRESS – OR LACK THEREOF – IN FIRST YEAR OF GOVERNMENT

  • The referendum on judicial pay was passed in October at the time of the presidential elections. A referendum on Oireachtas inquiries held at the same time was rejected, amid claims that it had been introduced in a rushed fashion and without sufficient consideration.
  • It has finally been agreed to establish a Constitutional Convention, but details are yet to be established.
  • A referendum on children’s rights will be held before the end of 2012, the Government has said.

Our full report: How did the government do in its first year? This is how.

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Michael Freeman

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