Call to reform defective state

From the Attic Archives.

Letter to the Cork Examiner in (I think) 1991.


We, the undersigned, have been concerned for some time about the manner in which the Irish State is constituted.

We believe that the machinery of government, the way it is financed, and the way it redistributes wealth, are paralyzing government, frustrating initiative and enterprise, undermining public morale and causing the growing emigration of intelligent and well-educated young people.

These defects, we believe, are inherent in the State itself, as it is now constituted, and will defeat the best efforts of any political party, Cabinet, Dail or local government council.

Our system of government was not designed to suit the needs of the Irish nation today. It is largely inherited from the British government in Ireland in the 19th century, or derived, uncritically, from contemporary practice in the United Kingdom.

This inadequate model has been made worse by the politicians and officials of our centralizing government, who believe they can manage Irish life better than the people directly involved in it, regionally, locally or professionally.

We believe that a better system of government, serving the needs of the Irish people today, can be devised and implemented.

We believe, moreover, that the usefulness of this enterprise would extend beyond its direct, practical benefits.

The creation of a new, distinctively Irish State, tailored to our particular needs and purposes, and exemplary in some respects, would overcome, to a considerable degree, our present crisis of national identity.

With all of this in mind, we have met and founded the Constitution Club.

The purpose of this club is, first, to persuade citizens and politicians that the State needs to be reorganized; secondly, to promote thought and discussion on how a framework of government might be created which would release the skills and energies in our society while increasing democratic accountability.

The club will provide a centre and a forum for new thinking on the following themes: National government, government of the communities (regional and sub-regional), the financing of government, government financing of citizens.

Our first meeting, at which the public will be welcome, will be held in Buswell’s Hotel, Dublin, on Wednesday, November 5th at 6 pm.

Dr. Roy Johnston will speak about ‘Innovation, Employment and Regional Government’.

Anyone who has done some thinking on any of the themes mentioned above, and who wishes to present his or her ideas to a sympathetic and critical audience, should send a summary of them to the Secretary, The Constitution Club, 28 Emmet Road, Dublin 8.

Finally, any individual or group outside Dublin who wishes to found a Constitution Club locally is welcome to contact us by writing to the same address.

Tom Barrington
Raymond Crotty
Desmond Fennell
Roy Johnston
Michael O’Flanagan
John Robb
John Roden

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