Writing in the Irish Times, Peadar Kirby and Mary P. Murphy, authors of Towards a Second Republic: Irish Politics after the Celtic Tiger, comment on the failure of the Irish government to put forward proposals for constitutional reform:
The March 2011 programme for government promised a constitutional convention “to consider comprehensive constitutional reform” and to report within 12 months. Yet, the virtual silence on the idea in the intervening period sends signals that rewriting our Constitution is seen as being of little importance to Government and Opposition alike.
Kirby and Murphy draw on examples from Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Iceland of popular participation in constitutional reform to make their case for a similar approach in Ireland:
All these processes involved extensive public consultation. In each of them, the constitution that resulted was broadly progressive, guaranteeing a range of not just civil rights but also social and cultural rights, as well as introducing innovative environmental rights in the cases of Bolivia and Ecuador.
In the case of Venezuela, the new constitution has become a popular document, sold at street kiosks and carried around by citizens in paperback format who refer to it to claim rights from the state. Each of the Latin American cases has also introduced a range of democratic mechanisms to enhance greater accountability by public officials, including the possibility of revocatory elections, while in Iceland provision has been made for referendums if requested by 10 per cent of voters.
Visit the Irish Times to read the article in full.
Irish Politics after the Celtic Tiger
Peadar Kirby and Mary P. Murphy
Analyses Ireland’s economics, politics and society, drawing lessons from its cycles of boom and bust. Proposes new institutions for a fairer Ireland.
“A very important, timely and relevant contribution to the ongoing debate about Ireland’s future and the type of Republic we should aspire towards. Their argument that we must move forward informed by republican values of equality, interdependency and sustainability is both refreshing and compelling. This accessible book should help ignite active public debate. A very welcome addition to Irish political discourse.” – Eamon Gilmore, Tánaiste and Leader, Irish Labour Party
“Kirby and Murphy have marched out on the battleground of ideas, asking how our political economy can be reformed. Indeed, they are demanding it. We may be arriving a little late on the scene to question the form of modern capitalism, but the recent crisis has opened up the space for this debate. This is a work of scholarship written with the public in mind. Its contribution is delivered in a true and new republican fashion.” – Eamon Ryan, Leader, Irish Green party