Democratic Justice

A community is democratic only when the humblest and weakest person can enjoy the highest civil, economic, and social rights that the biggest and most powerful possess.

Asa Philip Randolph, leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement,

We need to undertake a programme of substantial democratic reform. There must be real and meaningful reform of our local and national democratic processes which would put citizens at the heart of decision making. We will vindicate the right to greater democracy throughout the economy, society and, most importantly, the political decision-making process: popular initiation of constitutional referenda and parliamentary legislation; the right to recall TDs; citizen nomination of Presidential candidates; direct elections to the Seanad; and parliamentary committee membership and chairpersons, overseas voting and mandatory voting for all electorally registered citizens.

Citizens should be strongly encouraged to participate in the electoral process. Elections should be held at a convenient time for the vast majority of the population.

Our Parliament is a key function of our democracy to which many of our citizens feel disconnected and disempowered. We will enact parliamentary reform measures that will address the number of sitting days, holiday terms, numbers of members in chamber, a curbing of the whip system, election for Ceann Comhairle by secret vote and other measures to address parliamentary behaviour.

Government Ministers and TD’s to draw down pensions on reaching normal (State) retirement age. In the event of proven corruption by public representatives, including Ministers, the forfeit of pensions should occur.

We will reduce the powers of local county Managers and transfer those powers and accountability to locally elected representative councillors.

Hosting one general election every five years provides too large a gap for real democratic representation – particularly as there is no accountability for broken political promises subsequent to an election. A reduction in the electoral cycle in General Elections from five years to four years should be implemented in order to provide more collective democratic accountability.

Corruption in democracy is democracy denied; therefore, we will establish an Anti-Corruption Agency on a par with the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) to investigate and recoup to the state any assets and incomes accrued through political corruption. This agency, with similar wide-ranging powers to CAB, will investigate public and corporate financial corruption, fraud and tax evasion.

Any functioning democracy requires a diverse media and media ownership should not be disproportionately in the hands of a small number of wealthy individuals or corporations. We will expand the Irish media landscape, facilitating democratic ownership and participation by community groups, NGO’s, civil society groups and trade unions.