Saturday 3 December 2016

Only by creating new parties can we get real change

Voters are screaming for a more progressive political system and we need to listen to them

Stephen Donnelly

Published 27/07/2014 | 02:30

Stephen Donnelly TD has quit the banking inquiry
Stephen Donnelly TD has quit the banking inquiry

The sense of things at the MacGill Summer School in Donegal this week was a resignation that politics in Ireland is never going to change. Despite overwhelming evidence to support that conclusion, we must, and we can, prove it wrong. We must - because it's only by modernising the business of politics that we can provide the best possible public services, like healthcare and education. And we can - by changing how existing political parties operate, or creating new ones that work in better ways.

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Let's be honest - while the business of politics gets media coverage, you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who has lost a minute's sleep over government-imposed guillotines or three-line whips. But you'll find plenty of people who care about the quality of education in their local schools, the availability of healthcare services in their local community, or the response time of their local gardai. Making these services as effective as possible requires making the business of politics as effective as possible, as it's the politicians who set the rules and the tone for the public sector. And as it happens, the opportunities to improve both are pretty similar.

Politicians and public sector workers are largely disempowered. Non-Cabinet TDs have little meaningful role in developing legislation, which is meant to be their primary function. Similarly, many frontline public servants, like teachers, doctors and council staff, aren't allowed make changes locally they know will improve the services they provide.

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