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Fine Gael rated top for reform

Fine Gael has been ranked the number one party for political reform for a second time while the Green Party has overtaken Fianna Fail.

A team of academics scored each of the party's proposals, with Fine Gael up one on a similar study last week to 74 out of 100, while the Green Party jumped 15 to joint second place with Labour at 68.

Reformcard - the political reform scorecard - re-examined the parties' policies after they detailed their plans for change.

Jane Suiter, of University College Cork, said the boost for the Green Party came from its plans to make government more accountable and reform the Seanad rather than scrapping it.

"They're still the stronger from the local government... but where they really jumped up now is that they put a lot of proposals into open government, a much stronger focus on reforming freedom of information, lobbyists, whistleblowers, moving more towards open government data."

But the academics said the party lacked coherent policy proposals in reforming the public sector.

The study put Fine Gael at 74, Labour and the Green Party neck and neck at 68, Fianna Fail unchanged at 58 and Sinn Fein up 25 to 51.

The panel - consisting of eight academics from UCD, Trinity College, UCC, DCU, and Vrije University in Amsterdam - found Fine Gael's proposals on open government and on reforming the public services coherent and well thought through.

It scored lowest in terms of its plans to reform local government where the panel said there were few measures to increase accountability.

Labour was found to be particularly strong on open government measures, particularly on reforming freedom of information legislation, whistleblowers and lobbying.

But the panel regarded it as weak on reforming Dail procedures, with an emphasis on longer hours rather than more efficient procedures, giving TDs more powers, and on reducing the power of the Cabinet.

Reformcard said Fianna Fail scored highly because of its proposal to require Cabinet ministers to step down from their constituencies and to allow non TDs into the Cabinet.

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But it said the party lacked detailed policy in a number of areas including only a cursory mention of freedom of information, with little on opening up government data and under developed polices on protecting whistleblowers and regulating lobbyists.

Sinn Fein was found to be the strongest on measures to increase participation of women and young people in politics and on Seanad reform.

It was deemed less strong on open government and having very few proposals on reforming the public sector.