The 2011 Irish Presidential Ballot

Today Ireland goes to the polls to elect a new president. The job isn’t as important as in other countries, but one of the primary roles of the President is to veto new laws if they are unconstitutional. Nevertheless the election campaign has been downright dirty and negative as the hopeful candidates can’t really attack each other on policy issues.
It was the same last time. Skeletons are dragged out of closets, old events rehashed and exposed to the light of day again. There must be a better way of electing the first citizen?

I know who I don’t want to vote for: Dana, Sean Gallagher, David Norris, Martin McGuinness or Mary Davis. The remaining candidates, Gay Mitchell and Michael D Higgins, haven’t made any impression on me. A random number generator would make more sense than trying to decide among that lot.

Last I heard Sean Gallagher was in the lead, contrary to opinion on Twitter, and to this ballot taken by expats.

What’s more important for the country are the two referendums. There is the referendum website but since I guarantee that it will be gone by this time next year here are the two questions being asked of the Irish populace:

Referendum on the pay of judges

This referendum is about whether the pay of judges can be reduced in certain circumstances. At present the Constitution does not allow for the reduction of the remuneration of sitting judges.

Referendum on inquiries by the Oireachtas

This referendum proposes to give the Houses of the Oireachtas (the Dáil and Seanad) express power to conduct inquiries into matters of general public importance and, in doing so, to make findings of fact about any person’s conduct.

I think I’ll be voting no to the first amendment, and possibly no to the second one but I’m undecided about that. That’s the amendment I’m most interested in but have heard the least debate about on radio. This post seems quite clear on the changes, admitting that some aspects are still vague and letting the chair of a committee decide the rights of witnesses is worrying. Will this second amendment bring us “broadly” in line with other countries?

Here are the two amendments, for history:

Proposed amendment – judges’ pay

At present, Article 35.5 of the Constitution states:
“The remuneration of a judge shall not be reduced during his continuance in office.”

It is proposed to replace this with the following wording:
5 1° The remuneration of judges shall not be reduced during their continuance in office save in accordance with this section.

2° The remuneration of judges is subject to the imposition of taxes, levies or other charges that are imposed by law on persons generally or persons belonging to a particular class.

3° Where, before or after the enactment of this section, reductions have been or are made by law to the remuneration of persons belonging to classes of persons whose remuneration is paid out of public money and such law states that those reductions are in the public interest, provision may also be made by law to make proportionate reductions to the remuneration of judges.

Proposed amendment – Oireachtas inquiries

At present, Article 15.10 states:
“Each House shall make its own rules and standing orders, with power to attach penalties for their infringement, and shall have power to ensure freedom of debate, to protect its official documents and the private papers of its members, and to protect itself and its members against any person or persons interfering with, molesting or attempting to corrupt its members in the exercise of their duties.”

It is proposed to renumber this as 15.10.1° and to insert the following subsections:

2° Each House shall have the power to conduct an inquiry, or an inquiry with the other House, in a manner provided for by law, into any matter stated by the House or Houses concerned to be of general public importance.

3° In the course of any such inquiry the conduct of any person (whether or not a member of either House) may be investigated and the House or Houses concerned may make findings in respect of the conduct of that person concerning the matter to which the inquiry relates.

4° It shall be for the House or Houses concerned to determine, with due regard to the principles of fair procedures, the appropriate balance between the rights of persons and the public interest for the purposes of ensuring an effective inquiry into any matter to which subsection 2° applies.

(First image via this Reddit thread)


Sorry I missed you Cllr. Dan Fleming

Cllr Dan Fleming

This message from Cllr. Dan Fleming was stuffed into gates all over my estate this evening. I know they only have so much time on their hands but the letter was rolled up tightly and squashed between the bars on our gate and in the gates of other houses. I’d venture to say that it took as long to roll and fold the letter up as it would to walk to our front door. Oh, and yes, we were in when they “called”. The only other people to stuff literature into our gate are those clothes collectors and they’re possibly more popular than Fianna Fail at this stage.

I’m sure he’s a great guy and he’d have a great chat with you and all that but there’s no sign that he’s a Fianna Fail man. The missing party name strikes again! His website is down but his Fianna Fail page is up however.

I’m still not sure who I’ll vote for but you can hurt Fianna Fail without helping Sinn Fein if you vote carefully.


See how easily you can get rich?

News this morning is that elected politicians in Ireland “will receive more than €1,000 for every day they sit in the Dáil.” Not bad eh?

“Get Elected” was one of the 30 ways to spend your SSIA on Eddie Hobbs’ show recently. He suggested that investing your €20,000 in an election attempt was a great way to invest your lump sum. Given that a TD will earn more than €103,000 that’s a great investment if you have the hair and height for it!

According to today’s Irish Independent, the average basic wage for a TD will increase to more than €103,000, while a golden handshake, amounting to €4.7m, will be paid to TDs and Senators who lose their seats in next year’s general election.


Holding Your Breath?

Who else stayed up late watching the US election commentary and watched the non news unravel?
As time passes it looks more likely that Bush will win again and that has serious implications for the left, or perhaps for American society as a whole. Who likes Kerry anyway?
At least we can probably look forward to seeing ol’ Bill in the Whitehouse again. Cigar wielding interms beware.
What if Bush Wins?

On another matter, no doubt, the plight of Margaret Hassan has been largely forgotten now as well. I heard her sister speak and plead with her kidnappers, and it’s heart wrenching.
Later Kerry concedes defeat (5 minutes ago!). Well George, you’ve got a tough job ahead of you – a huge defecit, looming recession, and war in Iraq. Good Luck.

Kerry ended his quest, concluding one of the most expensive and bitterly contested races on record, with a call to the president shortly after 11 a.m. EST, according to two officials familiar with the conversation.


Paddy Power: Odds on the Election!

As of a few moments ago, these are the prices on both candidates in the US election from

2004 US Presidential Elections
Selection Prices
George W. Bush (Rep) 4 – 7
John Kerry (Dem) 5 – 4

And, as we approach the election hour, here’s Bush showing his true colours, giving Just a one-fingered victory salute to you and the world!