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The Foremen and... Democracy?


M

MrFunkyBoogaloo

The Economic Management Council, a group comprised of Enda Kenny, Eamon Gilmore, Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin has been preparing most of the upcoming budget - to the exclusion of all other ministers in Cabinet.

In today's Independent we learn that Joan the Moan isn't happy about this - no doubt because cuts to SW rates (JSB) are reportedly on the table and, rightly, as the Minister for Social Protection, Joan (or any other minister), should be at all of the discussions relating to her (or their) department.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton has expressed concerns about the details of the Budget needing to be fully discussed by the entire Cabinet.
A four-man, mini-Cabinet had been handling the bulk of the preparations on the Budget so far – and the full Cabinet will only get to discuss the Budget properly for the first time tomorrow.
The EMC, also attended by five senior civil servants and two advisers, meets once a week to co-ordinate economic policy and implementation of the EU-IMF bailout programme but, according to both the Independent (here) and the Irish Times, some ministers have previously expressed reservations about its arrangement and claim that the body erodes traditional Cabinet powers. This revelation forced Micheal Noonan to defend the council back in August; which you can read in full here...

it’s a very influential committee [...] it deals with the economic and financial issues and that’s its remit and it doesn’t interfere with the business of other Ministers”

Mr Noonan said that as the council was setting down expenditure parameters for all Government departments, it obviously constrained actions of other departments.

"in terms of decision making, I find the economic management council very effective"
An internet search of the EMC returns various articles and Dáil references to the body wherein one can see the extent of the council's reach but is it democratic to exclude other elected cabinet ministers from important economic, social and legislative discussion and decisions? Is it even constitutional? Article 28.4.2 reads;

The Government shall meet and act as a collective authority, and shall be collectively responsible for the Departments of State administered by the members of the Government.
So, what say you? Is Ireland's parliamentary democracy destined to a future wherein we have a 'higher' Government within and seemingly outside of actual Government? Has power become too concentrated around these Four Men and, if not, what does that mean for collective authority and responsibility of the whole government - as per the Constitution?

Is this democracy?


Some other links you may find useful...

Why is inner cabinet cabal calling the shots?
New economic apartheid holds power
Government beefs up economic policy committee
 
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Levellers

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After the shambles of the last budget [never mind how wrong it was] can you blame them?
 

FakeViking

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I didn't hear you complain when McCreevy wouldn't even tell his boss, Ahern, what was in his budgets until the morning of Budget Day.
 

eoghanacht

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So basically it's a big vote of no confidence on behalf of the Taoiseach and Tánaiste for the rest of the cabinet excluding of course the two other ministers already mentioned.


Hardly what you want to see coming from government.
 
M

MrFunkyBoogaloo

After the shambles of the last budget [never mind how wrong it was] can you blame them?
The EMC was established in 2011. If the last budget was a shambles then it was down to this very council.

I didn't hear you complain when McCreevy wouldn't even tell his boss, Ahern, what was in his budgets until the morning of Budget Day.
McCreevy? This about the FG and Lab government within a government.

So basically it's a big vote of no confidence on behalf of the Taoiseach and Tánaiste for the rest of the cabinet excluding of course the two other ministers already mentioned.


Hardly what you want to see coming from government.
Apart from that (which I agree with) is it also a vote of no confidence in Bunreacht?
 

Picasso Republic

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1. The Government was elected by the people (like it or not)
2. The Budget needs to be prepared by a small working group (otherwise it would never be completed)
3. The Budget is put before the Dail and voted on.

The budget preparation and contents is not the issue - the issue is similar to the UKs argument with the EU Budget. The taxpayer is being squeezed to the point of bankrupcy (Public and Private sectors) and there seems to be little if anything being done to combat exhorbitant payments (salary & pensions) within the upper echelons of the Oireachtas, Public Sector, Semi State and Banks and little or nothing is being done to combat waste (processes need changing) within organisations which are Government funded. The Government has done little to shut down unnecessary quangos and an exclusive politically connected elite still play musical chairs on these and Government company boards.

One of the items which should be included in a Budget is a cap on State Funded Pensions, starting with the Oireachtas. A maximum combined pension should be introduced whether one has been a TD, Minister, Taoiseach and carrying a teacher, VEC, HSE pension also.

Reasonable budgets need to be agreed with Dept Heads and a failure to adhere to Budgets should lead to mass sackings of those responsible. Lets face it Reilly and the HSE are overspending by approx €10M per week in 2012 (thats overspend only) and Ireland has the most expensive health service per capita in Europe - serious questions need to be asked and the top brass of the HSE are clearly incompetent and need removing.
 
M

MrFunkyBoogaloo

I hope stopdoingstuff doesn't mind me adding his/her words here but I think they're relevant to the discussion;

It's not dictatorship in the traditional sense of the word, but it's more like a slow erosion of the democratic character of our institutions, the slow conditioning of the people to accept the political narrative being spun by the parties and their court intellectuals, the replacement of meaningful political debate with noise and spin so that any real points are drowned out by a wall of scripted slogans and red-herrings, and, most importantly, the replacement of what we once assumed to be natural and obvious rights- free speech, property rights, privacy, and others- with positive rights that can be conjured into existence by the will of domestic and foreign ideologues, and which will overrule your actual rights on the say-so of the relevant official.

On the most fundamental level, the State has become too powerful, and the people do not have sufficient means to resist it in the short term. We may have formal democracy, but when the institutions themselves have been hijacked by small interest groups who think very much alike, our democracy becomes more formal than substantial. The last election was proof of that- one set of policies were roundly rejected, the new guys said they would be different, and then went back to doing much the same as the old guys.

And recent events have weakened this resistance even more- people have been shell shocked into accepting all sorts of extensions of state power. It started with the fixing of referenda and progressed from there. But I don't give up hope- we nailed the government to the wall in the last referendum. When we are asked a direct question, we said no. So we sill know that suspicion is a good thing in treacherous times. The "Childrens'" Referedum also shows that people are not dumb- the Government kept it deliberately low-key so that it would sneak through, but once it emerged that they were not playing by the rules, people woke up a bit. I would say if the court had ruled a few days earlier, the Government would have lost.

So yes, we are becoming less democratic, power is being concentrated in fewer hands and exercised by ever more distant processes, we are being increasingly ruled from behind closed doors and our choices are increasingly being presented as faits accomplis, the State takes more of our income and delivers fewer services, the State claims the right to indebt us to whatever extent it sees fit, the State now punishes free speech and violates private property, the powers that be have studiously avoided any serious public discussion of our future in Europe or what new powers we will be herded into signing over under financial duress, and anyone who raises any significant objections are portrayed as extremists or dreamers.

It's not that we are becoming an old fashioned dictatorship. If you can preserve the form of democracy while carefully controlling the political discourse so as to drown out dissent with noise, fear and ridicule, then you do not need dictatorial powers to violate people's rights.
 

emulator

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The EMC was established in 2011. If the last budget was a shambles then it was down to this very council.



McCreevy? This about the FG and Lab government within a government.



Apart from that (which I agree with) is it also a vote of no confidence in Bunreacht?
Precisely.

The arrogance of FG / Labour is that they no longer consider our constitution to be valid. It's just a minor inconvenience to them.
 

eoghanacht

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ShoutingIsLeadership

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I didn't hear you complain when McCreevy wouldn't even tell his boss, Ahern, what was in his budgets until the morning of Budget Day.
Given that was a decade ago, unless you know the OP writer personally, then you weren't likely to have heard anything he said about anything.
 
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Radix

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Funky, our Government is in Germany and rightly so , since when we did govern ourselves, we bankrupted our own country.

For our liquidation to go smoothly, it is important to have this inner circle of collaborative control; they have a very important job to get done, please let them get on with it.
 

Clanrickard

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Funky, our Government is in Germany and rightly so , since when we did govern ourselves, we bankrupted our own country.

For our liquidation to go smoothly, it is important to have this inner circle of collaborative control; they have a very important job to get done, please let them get on with it.
You sad little man. A coterie of has beens is basically concocting a budget which the sheep like TDs in the Labrador party and Fianna Gael will hit the Tá button because they are told. A farce.
 
M

MrFunkyBoogaloo

You sad little man. A coterie of has beens is basically concocting a budget which the sheep like TDs in the Labrador party and Fianna Gael will hit the Tá button because they are told. A farce.
I think Radix had his/her tongue placed firmly in cheek for that one.
 

Bitmap

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Power was never meant to be located so centrally or so exclusively in a democracy. Democracies are meant to be accountable to the people. This is just the latest erosion of democracy - an erosion that starts with the whip system.

To my mind the whip system is the biggest eroder of democratic values. Consider Denis Naughten - elected by the people of Roscommon to represent them and their clear wish not to close Roscommon hospital. He represents the people of Roscommon as he was elected to do by voting no and is punished for it. Is this democracy?

How insane is it that 70 odd FG members (using FG as an example, it applies to all parties) will agree on everything over 5 years? Me and the missus can't agree on everything over the course of a week and we get along pretty well (most days). Once a politician takes his seat after getting elected you may as well have a trained monkey in his place pushing the Ta and Nil buttons as required and getting his 90,000 bananas a year reward.

The 4 wise men will decide the budget with an eye on what's good for their core party voters and the monkeys will file into the voting booths to agree with them. And the passing of the budget will be accepted as democratic.
 

Howya

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One could take the view that involving the wider cabinet will just result in the budget being hijacked by vested interests (and more kite flying) but the overall thrust of the op is correct - there is less and less accountability in government.
 
M

MrFunkyBoogaloo

Abortion, budget kite-flying and the angelus are more important than Democracy at the moment.

Strange really... Oh well.
 

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