Is there an appetite for political reform?


Sir, – Una Mullaly argues that citizens are disappointed by the lack of progress of “reform” since the 2011 general election (Opinion, March 31st).

While I share her appetite for a changed society, the media analysis on this issue is increasingly trite and too focused on the failures of politicians.

While many in the media regularly express disappointment at Government inaction on reform, I’m not so sure that many Irish citizens necessarily feel the same way.

For example, close to 50 per cent of the population still voted for the conservative parties of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail in the “radical election” of 2011. The Irish people voted to keep the clapped-out Seanad and rejected a proposal to strengthen Oireachtas committees. Only a minority of our citizens bothered to vote and put children’s rights in the Constitution in 2012.

Next year the Government will hold a referendum on same-sex marriage. I have no doubt that the usual forces of apathy and conservatism will resist this, as happens every time a Government feels brave enough to put its ahead above the parapet and propose a social reform to the Constitution. To succeed, the campaign will need to be hard fought by civil society and individual citizens alike. Politicians alone, it seems, simply cannot win the argument.

Given the record of recent referendums, you can hardly blame politicians for being reluctant to spend their political capital on reforms towards which the population seem at best apathetic.

Rather than another critique of the failure of top-down reform, I’d prefer to see a wider discussion of why our citizenry has become so apathetic and uninterested in how our society is governed. Yours, etc,


Haddington Road,

Dublin 4