By-elections -- so little has changed
Published 13/01/2011 | 05:00
I am currently reading 'Ireland Since the Rising' by Tim Pat Coogan, published in 1966. In the chapter entitled 'State and Economy', in relation to recent by-elections, he states: ". . . out of the six fought between 1961 and 1964, all were successfully contested by widows, brothers or sons of the deceased deputies on behalf of whatever party had suffered the loss.
"It began to look as if deputies had not only a constitutional but also a testamentary right to their seats . . . it is possible that this trend may be on its way out".
He goes on to say: "What has become all too evident is the effect of the present system, which is to reduce the average deputy's role in decision-making to the point where he becomes little more than a letter-writer on behalf of his constituents in their relations with the civil service."