The Collins Institute, which was publicly launched in December 2014, is publishing today its first major policy report entitled Citizen Government: Political and Public Sector Reform in a Just Republic.
The report contains a series of proposals which, if implemented, would further open up Ireland’s political system and public sector, and allow Irish people to participate much more fully in the running of their country, both at a national and local level.
Key recommendations include:
- The creation of an elected Seanad, using a “mixed electoral system” which combines direct elections with a list system. A new Citizens Assembly – which would replace the Constitutional Convention – would be tasked with considering this and other proposals for Seanad reform. The Institute’s Open Seanad proposal would also allow citizens to participate directly in the debates of the second chamber and to ask questions of Ministers.
- The creation of Public Sector Mutuals/Cooperatives in order to give citizens and employees direct ownership of certain state bodies and services. The Institute proposes that there should be a review of all state owned bodies to ascertain which might be best suited to becoming mutual organisations.
- A much greater use of free votes in the Oireachtas by all parties, including on the committee stage of non-Money Bills and on so-called “life and death” issues, such as abortion and euthanasia.
- An independent Public Sector Remuneration Commission should be established to advise Government on future rises in public pay and pensions, drawing on comparative evidence from other countries and from the Irish private sector.
- Citizens should be given a bigger role in policy making through a series of initiatives including Participatory Budgets, which would allow citizens have more control of spending at local level, and a Citizens-Initiative which would allow citizens to request that Government develops legislation in a specific area.
- New policy delivery units should be established in all departments, while Civil Servants should be empowered and made more accountable to the Oireachtas through new legislation.
- All Irish passport holders and non-Irish residents should be given a vote in Presidential Elections while we propose that 6 Senators would be elected in two separate panels: i) 3 would be elected by Irish passport holders living in Northern Ireland, and citizens born in Ireland but residing abroad; and ii) 3 by non-Irish residents who are entitled to participate in Local and European elections.
- A Digital Democracy Commission should examine the feasibility of delivering online voting by 2021.
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The Collins Institute
The Collins Institute is a think tank which is supported by Fine Gael but operates independently of it. The Institute’s name recognises the crucial role which Michael Collins played in the creation of the Irish state and the special position which he occupies in the affections of many citizens today. The Institute will examine how a new, more Just Republic might be established in Ireland as we approach 2022, the centenary of both the founding of the state and the death of Collins.
Citizen Government is being issued by the Board of the Institute which is chaired by Marion Coy. Work was overseen by Dr Sean Faughnan who is the Director of the Institute.