independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Constitutional Convention chief needs some savvy

TOM ARNOLD is a decent and honourable man but he'd want to cop on pretty fast if the Constitutional Convention is going to be anything more than a talking shop.

The utterances coming from the Concern Worldwide chief executive about the operation of the think-tank are naive in the extreme.

"The politicians themselves are saying: 'We do not want to hog the limelight'," he declared yesterday.

The chairman himself will have to ensure the politicians don't dominate the proceedings and he'll have his work cut out.

At the opening session of the Constitutional, each of the party leaders gave what one could regard as a politicised speech, pitching in items on their own agenda.

Independent TD Maureen O'Sullivan stood out from the crowd as she actually made an effort to engage with the ordinary members of the body.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny inadvertently summed up the position of the 66 members of the public who are mixed in with the seasoned politicians.

"It will provide a means for citizens who ordinarily might not be familiar with how policy or laws are made to work alongside elected representatives and to have a direct input into the process of considering constitutional reform," he said.

But what chance 66 ordinary Joes, who are not organised into groupings, have of influencing the agenda against party politicians is anyone's guess.

The convention's opening session was also overshadowed by a farce over whether its members should be identified.

In the impossible event their identities could be kept secret, it would have raised serious questions about the transparency of the entire process.

Mr Arnold again displayed his lack of political savvy with his childish threat to exclude groups who made direct contact with members.

"Members of the Convention are entitled to not be the subject of excessive lobbying," he proclaimed.

Irish Independent

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