independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Constitutional reform requires transparency

The Constitutional Convention held its first formal meeting on Saturday.

That should have been an occasion for modest satisfaction: the spectacle of a political system going about its business in a brisk, tidying-up spirit.

Instead, the event was better fitted for the wrath of a satirist than the praise of a political reformer.

The first two items on the convention's agenda are reducing the President's term from seven years to five, and reducing the minimum voting age from 18 to 17. This utter triviality shows that the authors of the proposition simply could not be serious.

At some later date, the members will debate a proposal to give recent emigrants a vote in presidential elections. As an example of tokenism, this would be hard to beat. But even greater absurdity surrounds the composition of the convention itself.

Of its 100 members, 66 have been randomly chosen. The original idea – a very bad idea – was that they should remain anonymous. This plan inevitably was abandoned, to the regret of few.

Who dreamed it up in the first place? The Constitution belongs to all of us. We are entitled to know those who represent us in revising it.

We are entitled to press our opinions on them in the unlikely event that they might influence reform. This is called democracy. Uncom-fortable, but it works.

Irish Independent

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