Reform group praises public's positive views

 

POLITICAL transparency, more civic education and equality of access were the major issues raised at a We the Citizens public meeting last night.

The non-politically aligned campaign is holding public meetings to hear how citizens want to improve Ireland. Almost 150 people turned out to last night’s meeting in Blanchardstown, Co Dublin.

Organisers have so far been struck by the positivity of those at the meetings. Chairman of the organisation, Senator Fiach Mac Conghail, said it was a “significant revelation” that people were not being negative but were bringing energy about “resolving the future”. People were “parking their anger”, Prof David Farrell of University College Dublin said.

“You shouldn’t waste a crisis” was among the many thoughts emerging from the small round table discussions last night.

Concern about the political system was a priority for many attendees. One man told his group that people should not tell politicians how to govern rather “how we will be served”. Another table heard that democracy was like a company – “if not managed properly it would die”.

Strengthened local government and increased ownership of the decision-making process were raised by many, said Elaine Byrne of Trinity College Dublin, who is involved with the initiative.

Many people have told meetings they want to see a move away from parish pump politics to politicians working in a more national way, Prof Farrell said.

The themes from the meetings will inform a national citizens assembly later this month, which organisers hope will be a model to inform political decisions.

The group, which has received significant funding from Atlantic Philanthropies, has met representatives of all political parties, including Taoiseach Enda Kenny.