doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change
indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
A Second Republic - A Basic Framework
analysed our core requirements for an Irish system of Government that
might actually work -and lead to an end to decades (centuries!) of
communal strife - we are now ready to consider one possible model.
The basic building blocks are as follows:
Decentralisation - The Second Republic should be organised at the
lowest level possible, probably even smaller than the current county
model. In fact, this is the very way our ancestors arranged their
affairs with 80-100 tuatha across the island back in Brehonic
days. This is necessary to allow local communities a real sense
of control over their own destinies, helps counter some of the more
negative ravages of globalisation, and acts as a preventative measure
against any future regional or national tyrannies. Measures discussed
below will provide oversight to prevent local tyrannies emerging!
The precise number and boundaries of such local units should be
flexible over time via a defined agreed procedure.
Powers - Technically at least, the individual German Lander
and Swiss Cantons can negotiate and conclude their own individual
treaties, as States, with foreign governments outside their Federation
- provided of course such treaties do not infringe on the Federal
Constitution or the sovereignty of the whole. Thus, in Ireland,
a local area in say North Down may have certain formal treaty links
with Great Britain in order to give a more concrete expression of
the British identity of the locals, without the good residents of
say, South Armagh being unduly troubled by such developments.
of Representatives - Political representatives at local or national
level will not be categorised or their composition monitored in
any way apart from their party affiliation (if any). The voice,
and vote, of one representative is formally equal to that of any
other, apart from official office holders (e.g. Chair of a local
council, national Taoiseach, Opposition party Leaders) who by virtue
of position and the necessity of accountability must speak more.
All votes are always equal.
Majority Voting - Rather than the GFA concurrent consent
mechanism that enshrines sectarianism, the same end result could
be achieved with a more flexible system. The undervaluation of Other
votes in the GFA system is also to be avoided. In reality none of
the GFAs elaborate system is necessary. A simple Declaration
of Concern, signed by a significant number of representatives
- say 20% - would be enough to bring about a qualified majority
vote where a higher percentage - say 65% or 70% - is required to
allow a measure to succeed. In the absence of a Declaration of Concern
the simple 50%+1 rule would suffice.
System, via Subsidiarity - The all-Ireland level of Government should
have limited powers, being only those explicitly agreed to by the
local authorities, and only those where it is necessary to conduct
matters at a national level. I believe in retaining the PR-STV electoral
system and the current European Executive-from-Legislature
model from the existing Republic while increasing the powers of
a new (directly elected) Seanad considerably. The Presidency should
remain directly elected by popular vote, but with some extensions
to the Presidential powers (see below).
Constitution - for the entire island, whereby certain strictly delimited
powers are passed upwards to the all-Ireland level. The Federal
parliament should be Constitutionally charged with the simple provision
to ensure and enforce Equality of Opportunity of all Citizens. This
neatly side steps the problems of Rights discussed above
- the Citizens primary right is to equality of opportunity
in a meritocratic society. Any behaviour by others, which infringes
this right, is a Federal offence. Citizens thus have a responsibility
to ensure they do not act to unfairly keep others in a position
of disadvantage when they have the talent, education and/or native
ability to do better. This is the only meaningful benchmark of a
truly civilised society.
Government - removing the function of ultimate enforcement of Constitutional
Rights from the Courts would appear to be necessary, given the flawed
and fallible way the courts have persued Rights litigation in recent
decades. Also, we have seen in Ireland how the current three-branch
system has utterly failed to prevent serious high-level corruption.
Therefore, a Fourth Branch. The concept was indirectly inspired
by the German Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (Office
for the Deffence of the Constitution) which mainly monitors subversive
groups. I propose a Council of State, made up of directly elected
representatives (perhaps 2 from each province plus the President),
elected for 5-year terms, maximum 2 terms. Candidates must not have
held any other elected position or official Party position of a
party represented in the Federal Parliament for a period of 5 years
prior to announcing their candidature. The CoS refers proposed legislation
to the Supreme Court; hears final appeals on Equality-based cases;
has the power to initiate investigations of alleged Equality abuses
and political corruption; and acts as Prosecutor in impeachment
hearings. The President sits as head of the CoS. While a much more
active position than the current Presidency it is firmly in keeping
with and a mere extension to the Guardian of the Constitution
role envisaged in the 1937 Constitution. National domestic and foreign
policy would remain in the hands of the Taoiseach.
that while none of this mentions precise socio-economic policies,
the very structure is designed with the aim of creating a society
where individual citizens enjoy liberty to organise their lives in
their own way while offering strong protection from corruption, discrimination,
systemic inequality and tyranny. It accomodates the needs of any and
all ethnic, religious and national groupings within the broad Irish
Nation without explicitly singling any in particular out for special
mention -and thus potentially unwelcome attention. It is libertarian,
egalitarian, and republican in all the best senses of those words.
is in summary a solid blueprint for the future of Ireland - this island
we all call Home.