Updates

One year anniversary – demand real reform

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Today marks one year since the Constitutional Convention finished its work. To mark the anniversary, we are inviting you to sign the petition calling...   Read More

The Government says: “The system has served the State well.”

1. Dáil electoral reform The Government responded to the 4th report of the Constitutional Convention on Thursday, 18 December. This report recommended changes to...   Read More

Keep an eye on the Dáil this Thursday

1. The People’s Conversation Last Saturday, we held our first People’s Conversation event. This was the first of three conversations that Second Republic will...   Read More

Renewed campaign and reform agenda

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Since our foundation in 2010, Second Republic has followed a principle of advocating reform while stopping short of advocating a specific reform agenda. Instead,...   Read More

Latest on our September 21 event

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Interest in our September 21st event is fantastic. Thanks you to everyone who has expressed support and confirmed their place! Event: “What is the...   Read More

Two years’ campaigning, and something for Christmas?

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1. 2nd anniversary meeting Second Republic’s 2nd anniversary meeting will take place on December 1st in the Odessa Club, Dublin. Our first meeting was...   Read More

Wait and see…

1. Constitutional Convention The Constitutional Convention was promised to begin work this month. However, as yet there has been no indication of when or...   Read More

Breaking radio silence…

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1. Constitutional Convention The Government is pressing ahead with its plans for the Constitutional Convention. The planned convention will consist of 100 people, 66...   Read More

Moving forward and briefing Oireachtas members…

1. BRIEFING TO OIREACTHAS MEMBERS

One among our goals agreed last year was an objective of "[engaging] directly with the public, political parties and Oireachtas members in order to advance our aims." Consequently, on the 18th of January, a delegation from Second Republic visited Leinster House to give a briefing to members of the Oireachtas. The briefings were the result of a decision by the workgroup to begin a campaign of lobbying ahead of the announcement by the Government of their plans for a Constitutional Convention. That announcement is expected to happen very shortly. In particular, the delegation wanted to impress upon Oireacthas members the role that citizens should play in reform and the need to engage the People in the process of reform. Over the course of the day we met with 70 TDs, Senators and advisers from the following groups:
  • Sinn Féin: 11:30am—1:00pm
  • Independents: 1:00pm—2:00pm
  • Labour: 2:50pm—3:30pm
  • Fianna Fáil: 4:00pm—5:00pm
(A meeting with a leading figure in the Fine Gael parliamentary party was arranged for the following Tuesday.) Oireacthas members were briefed on the aims and origins of Second Republic and were given an overview of citizens' assemblies and examples worldwide. We also presented our proposal for a Citizens' Assembly on Political Reform and discussed the Government's plans for a Constitutional Convention. Naturally, it was necessary for members of the delegation to be completely familiar with the work of the group and with our proposal. Consequently, members of the delegation were drawn from the national committee and from the workgroup that developed the proposal:
  • Eric Conroy, a financial controller from Dublin and a co-author of the proposal
  • Bronagh Geraghy, a retail manager and home maker from County Kildare and a committee member
  • Will Holden, a logistics manager from County Cork and a committee member
  • John Hughes, an art teacher from Connemara and co-ordinator of the workgroup
  • Golding Kidd, a retired insurance manager from County Dublin and a committee member
  • Oliver Moran, a software engineer from Cork and chairperson of the group
  • Denis Parfёnov, a social entrepreneur from Dublin, originally from Belarus, and a co-author of the proposal
  • Tom Weafer, a product manager from Dublin and a co-author of our proposal document
While we wanted to send a gender-balanced delegation, work and travel commitments meant that nearly all female workgroup and committee members were unable to make it. In future delegations, we hope that this will not be the case. The response we received was very honest and engaging. There was a genuine sense of a desire for reform from all of the Senators and Deputies that we met. Among some of the more interesting suggestions we received were to request an opportunity to address the Seanad and to present to the Oireacthas committee that will be considering legislation for the Constitutional Convention. Both of these suggestions came from senior members of the Government parties and are being pursued seriously. Many of the TDs and Senators we addressed were frustrated at the political system. Particular grievances included the rights and powers of the Opposition, backbenchers and private members vis-a-vis the Cabinet as well as local government reform. As part of the briefing, professionally printed copies of our proposal were produced by us and copies were given to each member of the Oireachtas that we met. Two hundred copies were printed ahead of the meeting at a cost of €481. After incurring this cost (which we think was worth it), we would be grateful for any donations. If you can donate to Second Republic, please visit here to find out how: To show our appreciation, if you give a donation of €10 or more, email info@2nd-republic.ie asking for a copy of the printed proposal document and we will forward one to you by post.

2. CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

Despite forming a major part of the Program for Government, and of election-period manifestos of every major party, little more has emerged about what form the Constitutional Convention will take apart from the fact that it will happen. There have been vague statements in the Dáil, beginning last March, but no real details have been made public. However, some tantalising details have been hinted at. In December, the Taoiseach said, "The Constitutional convention will look at the presidential elections, voting rights, gay marriages and a whole long list of things. The intention would be to have a Constitution day within 12 months of that being set up." In the We the Citizens report, on 12th December, it was confirmed that the Government was examining the use of a citizens’ assembly to create a stand alone citizen ‘stream’ within a Constitutional Convention. This approach is supported by the academic board of We the Citizens. On the 14th December, Brendan Howlin indicated that political parties represented in Dáil Éireann would be involved in the Convention and that the citizens’ assembly model was being carefully examined. After Christmas, the Taoiseach announced he would talk to the Opposition in January (after initially saying he would do so before Christmas). Even still, this has not yet happened. During the visit of the Second Republic deputation to Leinster House on the 18th of January, it was indicated to us that details of the Convention’s structure would be published in February. Second Republic commented on this situation in the Irish Times and called for a public debate: For further details, on the 2011 Programme for Government see: You may also be interested in seeing the election-period promises from political parties regarding citizen involvement in political reform:

3. AGM

This month, it will be a year since the first AGM of Second Republic, when we developed our aim and objectives. Since then, we have been working to implement those. This year's AGM is now in planning. The tentative date and location for the 2012 AGM is Saturday, 3 March in Dublin. Of course, there are many topics already on the agenda including a review of objectives and ideas for meeting more of them over the coming year (e.g. organising a large event on the topic of a Second Republic as well as funding questions). Some interesting questions proposed for discussion include strategic questions for Second Republic with regards to the Government's proposal for Constitutional Convention (e.g. should we disband following the convention and what if we are offered a role?). Additionally, there is a question about whether the 12-month timescale for a single citizens' assembly on a broad area of reform is unrealistic. We had to admit as much in our discussion with the political parties. This was an aim we adopted last January and a proposal will be put that we would support a series of Citizens' Assemblies for Political Reform examining different parts of the constitution as an alternative to our January 2011 aim of one single fix-all assembly. We also hope to include some invited guests at the AGM, particularly, some who have been notable in the area of discussion around reform. Organisational matters like the election of officers and our organisational structure will naturally also be a part. We hope to encourage discussion around these matter ahead of a meeting on the campaign mailing list:

4. ENGAGING PEOPLE

A recurring question from the members of the Oireachtas that we met was how to get people on board with the need for reform. The question especially was how to communicate to people the importance of reform. This was seen as being particularly difficult when there are other apparently more immediate issues, such as austerity, that people face. We'd like to invite ideas for how on this. Why do we need reform? What do politicians need to do to get people to believe in reform? How can we communicate the importance of reform? What about people's scepticism towards politics and the belief that reform is removed from the reality of everyday life? Can a political system reform itself? If you have an ideas, please email them to the campaign list: Or you can tweet @2ndrepublic or post on our Facebook page:

5. WE THE CITIZENS

We the Citizens' concluded their demonstration of the effectiveness of citizens' assemblies in December. Among their conclusions were recommendations that the Government adopts a citizens’ assembly to complement and enhance representative democracy in Ireland. In relation to reform, they recommended that, if reform programmes are to be successful, citizens must feel that they have some ownership in the process. A citizens’ assembly, they concluded, would allow that to happen. They also concluded that they had shown that a citizens’ assembly can strengthen democracy by helping to restore trust in the democratic system of government. Their final report, which includes a reference to Second Republic, can be downloaded here: The report goes into some detail about the thinking behind citizens' assemblies and why they work. These include five clear criteria for success of a citizens' assembly:
  • It must be set up for a specific purpose, and once that purpose has been achieved, the Citizens’ Assembly ceases to exist. In other words, the assembly cannot and should not act as another House of the Oireachtas: its work and membership are limited by time and purpose.
  • The members must be selected randomly to give a balanced social and demographic representation. They are not elected, nor are they there as representatives of particular sectors. There is therefore no risk of specific interests subverting the work of the assembly.
  • The members must be given balanced briefing notes and have the opportunity to hear from and to question experts.
  • The members should be given sufficient time and space to debate and deliberate over the issues.
  • It should be made clear what will happen to the outcomes of the Citizens’ Assembly.
An easy to understand video of the final report is here:

6. TOWARDS A SECOND REPUBLIC

A very worthy new book by Peadar Kirby and Mary Murphy entitled, "Towards a Second Republic: Irish Politics after the Celtic Tiger", was published last November. Peadar Kirby is Professor of International Politics and Public Policy in the University of Limerick and author of "Celtic Tiger in Collapse" and co-editor of "Transforming Ireland". Mary Murphy is a lecturer in Irish Politics and Society, National University of Ireland Maynooth and has worked in various campaigning groups as an advocate for social justice and equality. The blurb describes the book as follows:
Towards a Second Republic analyses Ireland’s economics, politics and society, drawing important lessons from its cycles of boom and bust. Peadar Kirby and Mary Murphy expose the winners and losers from the current Irish model of development and relates these distributional outcomes to the use of power by Irish elites. The authors examine the role of the EU and compare Ireland’s crisis and responses to those of other states. More than just an analysis of the economic disaster in Ireland, the book is also a proposal to construct new and more effective institutions for the economy and society. It is a must read for students of Irish politics and political economy.
The authors wrote the following piece for the Irish Times in which they contrast their views how reform should happen with Second Republic's proposal and the conclusions of We the Citizens: Copies of the book can be bought online here:

7. STATS

  • 63,645 hits on the website
  • 14,858 individual visitors to the website
  • 560 people “like” us on Facebook
  • 554 subscribers to this mailing list
  • 290 followers on Twitter
  • 81 subscribers to the “campaign” mailing list
We also have a YouTube Channel and a Flickr stream. Links: Remember, spread the word. ‘Like’ us on Facebook, if you haven’t done so, and post comments on our Facebook page. ‘Follow’ us on Twitter and use the #2ndrepublic hash tag when you mention us. Share the website using the links on each of the pages. And, most importantly, tell people about us face-to-face.

Finalised the proposal

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1. CITIZENS' ASSEMBLY PROPOSAL

After months of tireless work, the Second Republic work group have finished their work on "A Proposal for a Citizens' Assembly on Political Reform". We'd like to thank everyone who contributed, made comments and gave criticism of the proposal over that time. In total,17 authors are named on the document as well as there being many unnamed contributors. Congratulations to everyone involved. It makes for impressive and inspiring reading. The proposal was developed through a series of face-to-face meetings as well as weekly Skype calls. As far as we know, this may be the first comprehensive proposal document for a process of complete reform of a political system prepared solely by the citizens of a state. The goal of the proposal is not to give one definitive proposal for the movement. Instead, its purpose is to present a credible and inspiring vision of a process of reform that meets the aims agreed at Second Republic's AGM last January. Those aims can be seen here: The proposal meets these aims by both drawing on the experiences of citizens' assemblies in Canada, Iceland and the Netherlands. The proposal also introduces a number of innovative approaches, such as having a mixture of full-time and part-time members and allocating spaces for representatives of the diaspora. The proposal can be downloaded here: If you would like to comment on the proposal, you can do so on our newly re-vamped forum (see below), here:

2. CAMPAIGN NEWS

Last Monday evening, the proposal document was forwarded to all 166 members of the Dáil and all 60 members the Seanad. Along with the proposal document, we also forwarded the petition letter for a Second Republic signed by over 500 of our supporters. We hope both of these documents will impress upon our representatives in Leinster House the seriousness of our campaign and the desire for reform that the public have. We have already received responses from many of those who we sent it to. With the finalizing of the proposal document, our campaign can enter into a new phase. We have been fortunate to attract the talent of Orla Fagan to the group, who will be advising us on our campaign strategy, in particular our media campaign. A small group of volunteers have been developing this strategy — of which sending the proposal document to the Oireachtas is the first small part. The work group that developed the proposal document will now transfer their energies to developing and implementing other campaigns. These include plans for more public events events and campaigns over the coming months. A small step towards that will be the opening of a forum for discussion of political reform hosted on our website (see below). We will keep you informed of these as they are further developed. In the mean time, if you want help campaign on behalf of Second Republic, there are a number of things that you can do:
  • Contact your local TD and point them towards the proposal document, which they will already have received.
  • If you have not yet singed it, and want to show your support for the movement, please sign the petition for a Second Republic: http://www.2nd-republic.ie/petition
  • Contact the work group and introduce yourself if you want to contribute or participate on one of the Skype calls: workgroup@2nd-republic.ie

3. NEW FORUM

The Second Republic forum has been entirely revamped. As part of our objective of encouraging discussion on political reform, two new forums have been opened. One of these will be dedicated solely to discussion of political reform. The other will be for discussion about citizen assemblies and the government's proposal for a Constitutional Convention. The forum was instrumental in the early discussions that established Second Republic. As the group developed, however, the forum became less useful. As well as that, an founding policy of Second Republic is to raise "questions, not answers" about political reform. This strategy is in order to remain neutral and above ordinary politics, which can be divisive for a broad-base movement like ours. While that policy has not changed, we hope the new forum will become a hub for discussion about all things to do with political reform. Strong views and inspirational ideas are welcomed. If you'd like to open a discussion, please visit the forum here:

4. CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

As part of the Programme for Government agreed last February, the Government committed itself to holding a Constitutional Convention on political reform. In his presidential campaign, Miachel D. Higgins referred to the Constitutional Convention on many occasions as an opportunity for renewal and a "real republic". That Constitutional Convention will consider:
  • Review of our Dáil electoral system.
  • Reducing the presidential term to 5 years and aligning it with the local and European
  • elections
  • Provision for same-sex marriage.
  • Amending the clause on women in the home and encourage greater participation of women in public life.
  • Removing blasphemy from the Constitution
  • Possible reduction of the voting age.
  • Other relevant constitutional amendments that may be recommended by the Convention.
While, there has been no official word from the Government as to the exact form that the Convention will take. Ministers have referred to it regularly in newspaper reports and the Taoiseach has answered questions on it in the Dáil. These suggest that it may be held in the Spring. However, it is unclear whether citizens will have a substantial or marginal opportunity to participate in it. Speaking in the Dáil on October 11, the Taoiseach said:
"In respect of the convention, I do not want to make any announcement about it before the presidential election and the two referenda that are taking place so that nobody will be confused about what the constitutional convention is to do. If Members wish, after the presidential election and the two referenda, I will hold consultations with the leaders of the Opposition, take their views, allow the Government form its view and publish our proposals. Or, if Members prefer, I can do it the other way round and let the Government announce its recommendations here and allow comment on those. That is a matter we can talk about." — http://debates.oireachtas.ie/dail/2011/10/11/00018.asp
See the Programme for Government here:

5. #OCCUPYWALLSTREET

As part of our series highlighting other movements and organisations, #OCCUPYWALLSTREET is a leaderless movement for democracy that began in America on September 17 with an encampment in the financial district of New York. Since then it has been replicated in over 95 cities across 82 countries, including Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Galway and Waterford. Inspired by the Egyptian Tahrir Square uprising and the Spanish acampadas, it aims to take the influence of money out of politics. The protests are defined by groups of people "occupying" or camping out in an area of a city. The protests are peaceful with regular "assemblies" where the participants decide their actions and manage their camp through consensus. The groups also hold topical workshops on politics and economics. The movement has no political affiliations or agenda except to challenge vertical systems of authority and replace them with a system where authority is based on consensus and collective understanding.

6. STATS

  • 61,008 hits on the website
  • 13,944 individual visitors to the website
  • 553 people “like” us on Facebook
  • 541 subscribers to this mailing list
  • 289 followers on Twitter
  • 96 registered users of the forum
  • 83 subscribers to the “campaign” mailing list
We have also have a YouTube Channel and a Flickr stream. Links: Remember, spread the word. ‘Like’ us on Facebook, if you haven’t done so, and post comments on our Facebook page. ‘Follow’ us on Twitter and use the #2ndrepublic hash tag when you mention us. Share the website using the links on each of the pages. And, most importantly, tell people about us face-to-face.