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The following is taken from a recent Irish Times article on the topic of the upcoming Constitutional Convention in Ireland:

AS THE dust settles on the fiscal treaty referendum, we can only hope that the Government is now finally going to bite the reform bullet after many months of prevarication. Elected on a wave of change in February 2011, both Government parties nailed their colours to the political reform mast, promising root-and-branch changes to our political institutions.

The one measure that could once and for all demonstrate this Government’s seriousness of intent to grasp the political reform nettle would be the establishment of the long overdue constitutional convention. This was supposed to have been launched on the heels of the election victory. But as is so often the case in politics, events took their turn, and the convention languished on the back burner until earlier this year when the Government published details of how it would be constituted, and its agenda.

Now, there can be no more excuses for prevarication. A clear and unambiguous promise has been made to establish the convention involving a random selection of 66 ordinary citizens, working in conjunction with 33 elected politicians to consider eight specific themes:

* The Dáil electoral system;

* Reducing the presidential term to five years;

* Giving citizens the right to vote at Irish Embassies in presidential elections;

* Provision for same-sex marriage;

* Amending the clause on the role of women in the home and encouraging greater participation of women in public life;

* Increasing the participation of women in politics;

* Removing the concept of blasphemy from the Constitution;

* Reducing the voting age to 17.

Certainly, in an ideal world, this could have been managed better. But this shouldn’t take from the fact the constitutional convention will represent the most ambitious reform process undertaken since 1937, and the first ever to include the active involvement, from the bottom up, of ordinary citizens.

My first thought is, why would they restrict voters to an “Irish Embassy” location, that is pretty dumb.  And why only for presidential elections?



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