Creighton hopes reform conference can contribute to public debate

More than 500 people said to have registered for conference with ‘400 ideas’ submitted for debate

The Reform Alliance has not discussed becoming a political party but hopes that ideas arising from its first conference can contribute to debates in the Dáil and public life on getting the economy back on track, Dublin South East TD Lucinda Creighton has said.

The alliance said 500 people had registered to attend today's conference at the RDS in Dublin and 400 others had submitted ideas through its website, to be considered by those in attendance.

Ahead of the conference, Ms Creighton said many people had told her they felt frustrated by a lack of responsiveness in the political system. She hoped the meeting could lead to wider engagement between politicians and the public.

"We're all aware that we are exiting the bailout but not a whole lot has changed in terms of how we govern ourselves and approach economic development compared to five years ago," she told The Irish Times last night. "There hasn't been any massive overhaul and I think we can contribute some ideas to that."


She said taxation, regulatory compliance, appointments to State boards and the parliamentary whip system were among topics on which submissions had been received.

The conference is seen as an attempt to build a reformist base beyond the anti-abortion stance that led Ms Creighton and her six colleagues in the alliance to lose the Fine Gael whip last year.

Broadcaster Tom McGuirk is chairing the opening session of the day, which focuses on politics. It is scheduled to feature speakers such as former British Conservative Party adviser Philip Blond, political scientist Jane Suiter and journalist Olivia O'Leary.

A second session on health is being chaired by journalist June Shannon and will feature contributions from Blackrock Clinic co-founder Dr Jimmy Sheehan and the HSE director of national population health, Dr Pat Doorley. The final session on the economy is to be chaired by broadcaster and economist David McWilliams.

Asked if the Reform Alliance would ultimately become a political party, Ms Creighton replied: “We haven’t talked about it at all.”

Steven Carroll

Steven Carroll

Steven Carroll is an Assistant News Editor with The Irish Times