Joint Committee on
Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht


Public Consultation on an
Electoral Commission in Ireland

The Joint Committee carried out a public consultation on the Government's Consultation Paper on an Electoral Commission in Ireland, submitted by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government.

The report is now available on-line:

14 January 2016


Questions

You are invited to read the consultation paper and other documents below and comment on all or any of the following questions.

You may also make any other observations that you think are relevant.

The consultation paper poses eleven questions which can be summarised in points 1 - 4 below.

  1. Functions
    1. What existing functions in the conduct and management of elections and referendums would be transferred to such a Commission?
    2. What functions would remain with existing actors and why?
  2. Cost
    1. What is the sum of the costs incurred by all actors involved in electoral (including referendum) management?
    2. How would and should the establishment of the Commission affect these costs?
  3. Independence and accountability / Membership
    1. How would the Commission’s independence be promoted along with its accountability to the Houses of the Oireachtas / Government for carrying out the functions assigned to it?
    2. What mechanisms would be used to promote this accountability?
    3. Who should be a Member and how should members of the Commission be appointed?
  4. Establishment process
    1. Should the establishment of the Commission be undertaken on a phased basis, as recommended by the report commissioned by the Department from the Geary Institute, or some other way?
    2. Should it exist alongside SIPO (Standards in Public Office Commission) or within SIPO?

Hearings


 The committee held hearings on:

  1. 10 March 2015,
  2. 16 June 2015,
  3. 23 June 2015,
  4. 30 June 2015,
  5. 7 July 2015, 
  6. 14 July 2015.

10 March 2015 - Meeting No. 1

The Committee met the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Mr. Alan Kelly, T.D.

Committee Debate full text of the official report and the Windows Media Player video recording

See also Relevant Documents below.


16 June 2015 - Meeting No. 2

The Joint Committee held its second meeting at 2.15 p.m. on Tuesday 16 June 2015 (see the full text of the official report and the Windows Media Player video recording, and the YouTube playlist below).

The following expert witnesses attended:

  • Professor Michael Marsh, Department of Political Science, Trinity College Dublin;
  • Professor David Farrell, School of Politics and International Relations, University College Dublin;
  • Dr Theresa Reidy, lecturer in the School of Government, University College Cork;
  • Dr Muiris MacCarthaigh, lecturer in Politics and Public Administration, Queens University Belfast;
  • Mr John O’Dowd, lecturer in the School of Law, University College Dublin.
Opening Statements and Submissions
  1. Buckley Farrell Reidy Suiter Opening Statement
  2. Professor Michael Marsh Opening Statement Slides
  3. Dr Muiris MacCarthaigh Submission
  4. John O Dowd Opening Statement


23 June 2015 - Meeting No. 3

The third meeting took place 2.15 p.m. on Tuesday 23 June 2015 (see full text of the official report and Windows Media Player video recording, and the YouTube playlist below).

The following witnesses representing a number of State and local authority bodies attended:

  • Seamus McCarthy, Comptroller and Auditor General (also Standards in Public Office Commission and Referendum Commission)
  • Peter Tyndall, Ombudsman (also Standards in Public Office Commission and Referendum Commission)
  • Paddy Walsh, Secretary, Standards in Public Office Commission and Referendum Commission
  • Mairead Ahern, Returning Officer (also County Registrar for Louth, and Association of Dáil Returning Officers)
  • Fintan Murphy, Returning Officer (also County Registrar for Mayo, and Association of Dáil Returning Officers)
  • Joseph Nugent, Chief Executive, Local Government Management Agency (LGMA)
  • Conn Murray, Chairman, County and City Managers Association (CCMA) (also Chief Executive of Limerick City and County Council)
  • Vincent J. Norton, Executive Manager, Chief Executive’s Office & Corporate Services Department, Dublin City Council

Opening Statements

  1. Standards in Public Office Commission Opening Statement
  2. Comptroller and Auditor General Opening Statement
  3. Returning Officers Association Opening Statement
  4. LGMA and CCMA Opening Statement

Submissions

  1. Standards in Public Office Commission SIPO Submission
  2. Referendum Commission Submission
  3. Ombudsman Submission
  4. LGMA and CCMA Submission
  5. Dublin City Council Submission Electoral Commission


30 June 2015 - Meeting No. 4

The fourth meeting took place at 2.15 p.m. on Tuesday 30 June 2015. See the full text of the official report, the Windows Media Player video recording, and the YouTube playlist below.

Witnesses Session A 14.15 - 15.30

  • Mr Jimmy McMeel (principal, Department of Finance)
  • Dr Liam Weeks (Department of Government, University College Cork)
  • Mr. Paul Lambert (solicitor and author of Author of Data Protection Law in Ireland: Sources and Issues)

Witnesses Session B 15.30 - 16.45

  • Mr. Sean Fleming TD
  • Mr. Jim O'Keeffe
  • Mr. Noel Whelan

Opening Statements

  1. Liam Weeks Opening Statement
  2. Department of Finance Opening Statement
  3. Paul Lambert Opening Statement
  4. Sean Fleming TD Opening Statement

Submissions

  1. Liam Weeks Submission
  2. Liam Weeks Submission PR-STV
  3. Department of Finance Submission


7 July 2015 - Meeting No. 5

The fifth meeting took place at 4.00 p.m. on 7 July 2015.  See the full text of the official report , the Windows Media Player video recording and the You Tube playlist below.

Committee Chairman, Michael McCarthy, said: "This meeting deals specifically with the concerns of young people, immigrants and students, as the Joint Committee continues its examination of the issues surrounding the establishment of an independent Electoral Commission for Ireland."

The following witnesses attended:

  • Ms Anne O’Donnell, Head of Citizen Participation, Department of Children and Youth Affairs;
  • Mr Domhnall McGlacken-Byrne, President, Trinity College Dublin Students' Union;
  • Mr Brian Killoran, Chief Executive Officer, Immigrant Council of Ireland;
  • Mr Ian Power, President, National Youth Council Ireland;
  • Mr James Doorley, Deputy Director, National Youth Council of Ireland.

Submissions

  1. National Youth Council Submission
  2. Trinity College Dulbin Students Union Submission TCD Students
  3. Trinity College Dublin Students Union and UCI Submission TCD Students Union


14 July 2015 - Meeting No. 6

The sixth meeting took place at 2.15 p.m. on 14 July 2015. 

See the full text of the official report, the Windows Media Player video recording and the YouTube playlist below.

The following witnesses attended:

  • Ms. Helen Dixon, Data Protection Commissioner;
  • Mr. Tim Duggan, Assistant Secretary, and Ms. Michelle O'Donnell, Assistant Principal, Client Identity Services, Department of Social Protection;
  • Dr. Adrian Kavanagh, Lecturer in Geography, NUI Maynooth;
  • Mr. Sean Donnelly, Political Analyst;
  • Mr. Liam Kenny, Director,Association of Irish Local Government (AILG), accompanied by:
    • Councillor Aidan Davitt from Westmeath County Council
    • Councillor Peter McVitty from Cavan County Council
    • Councillor Christy Hyland from Mayo County Council and west Mayo municipal district
    • Councillor Damien Geoghegan from Waterford County Council

Opening statements and submissions

  1. Data Protection Commissioner Opening Statement
  2. Department of Social Protection Opening Statement
  3. Sean Donnelly Opening Statement
  4. Association of Irish Local Government Submission


Relevant Documents

The following documents are provided for your information.

Consultation Paper, other useful documents, and committee debates

27 January 2015 Letter to the Committee from the Minister re Electoral Commission
Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government
27 January 2015 Electoral Commission Consultation Paper DECLG
Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government
27 April 2015

Electoral Commission: overview of policy rationale
Houses of the Oireachtas Library and Research Service‌

10 March 2015 Electoral Commission Ministers Opening Statement
Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government
10 March 2015 Committee Debate 1 full text of the official report | video recording (also YouTube playlist above)
16 June 2015 Committee Debate 2 full text of the official report | video recording (also YouTube playlist above)
23 June 2014 Committee Debate 3 full text of the official report | video recording (also YouTube playlist above)
30 June 2015 Committee Debate 4 full text of the official reportvideo recording (also YouTube playlist above)
7 July 2015 Committee Debate 5 full text of the official report | video recording (also YouTube playlist above)
14 July 2015 Committee Debate 6 full text of the official report | video recording (also YouTube playlist above)

Reports which recommended an Electoral Commission



Submissions and Opening Statements


  1. Buckley Farrell Reidy Suiter Opening Statement
  2. Professor Michael Marsh Opening Statement Slides
  3. Dr Muiris MacCarthaigh Submission
  4. John O Dowd Opening Statement

    Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) and Referendum Commission (RefCom)

  5. Standards in Public Office Commission Opening Statement
    Standards in Public Office Commission SIPO Submission
  6. Standards in Public Office Commission SIPO Submission
  7. Referendum Commission Submission
    Comptroller and Auditor General Opening Statement
  8. Comptroller and Auditor General Opening Statement
    Comptroller and Auditor General Submission
  9. Comptroller and Auditor General Submission
    Ombudsman Submission
  10. Ombudsman Submission

  11. Returning Officers Association Opening Statement
  12. Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) and
    City and County Managers' Association (CCMA)
    LGMA and CCMA Opening Statement
    LGMA and CCMA Submission
  13. Dublin City Council Submission Electoral Commission
  14. Department of Finance
    Department of Finance Opening Statement
    Department of Finance Submission

  15. Paul Lambert Opening Statement
  16. Sean Fleming TD Opening Statement
  17. Jim OKeeffe (also SIPO) Opening Statement
  18. Noel Whelan Submission

  19. Liam Weeks
    Liam Weeks Opening Statement
    Liam Weeks Submission PR-STV
  20. National Youth Council Submission
  21. Trinity College Dublin Students Union
    Trinity College Dulbin Students Union Submission TCD Students
    Trinity College Dublin Students Union and UCI Submission TCD Students Union
  22. Data Protection Commissioner
    Data Protection Commissioner Submission
    Data Protection Commissioner Opening Statement

  23. Department of Social Protection Opening Statement
  24. Sean Donnelly Opening Statement
  25. Association of Irish Local Government Submission
  26. Dermot Lynch Submission

  27. Elections Ireland Submission
  28. Fianna Fail Submission (Fianna Fail Submission (native PDF))
  29. Fine Gael Submission
  30. Green Party Submission

  31. Jason O Mahony Submission
  32. Second Republic Submission
  33. Stephen Spillane Submission

Making Submissions

Written submissions and communications should be sent by email.

Submissions should be received not later than the closing date below at the following email address: Electoral.Commission@oireachtas.ie
or by post to teh address below.

The Committee will consider any suitable written submissions received and may decide to invite a number of contributors to public hearings should it be considered necessary.

Submissions and communications should only be sent to the email address above and not to individual members of the Committee.

Please note that the Clerk will ensure that all members of the Committee receive, in due course, copies of all submissions and communications received.


Format of Submissions

As a general guideline, submissions should consist of:

  • a covering letter (email or email attachment in MS Word or equivalent)
  • a main submission document (email or email attachment in MS Word or equivalent).

The covering letter should contain your name and contact details (phone number and postal address and, if available, an email address). If the submission is on behalf of an organisation, you should indicate your position in the organisation. If your submission is on behalf of another organisation, please make this clear in your letter.

The main submission document should contain the following information:

  1. Your name;
  2. A brief introduction, for example, explaining your area of expertise;
  3. Any factual information that you have to offer from which the Committee might be able to draw conclusions, or which could be put to other parties for their reactions;
  4. Any recommendations to the Committee which should be as specific as possible and should be summarised at the end of the document;
  5. An executive summary of the main points made in the submission, if your document is more than 10 pages long;
  6. Whether you would be prepared to appear at a public session of the committee.

Making a submission is a public process

The Committee is not obliged to accept your document once it has been submitted, nor is it obliged to publish any or all of the submissions if it has received or accepted.

However, the operation of a parliament is a public process, and you should be aware that any submissions made to a Committee may be published either as part of a Committee report, or separately, if the Committee decides to do so.


Closing Date

The closing date for receipt of submissions was Monday 22 June 2015 at 3 p.m. (extended from 8 June 2015 following a number of requests).  Late submissions will be circulated to the committee, but there is no guarantee that they will be taken into account when the committee is considering its report.


Committee Details

Membership of the Joint Committee
Contact Details for the Joint Committee
Making Submissions and Presentations to Oireachtas Committees
Facts about Committees

Queries

Should you have any queries in relation to this matter, please email Electoral.Commission@oireachtas.ie or contact:

Leo Bollins
Clerk to the Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht
Houises of the Oireachtas
Leinster House
Dublin 2
D02 XR20
Ireland

01 618 3575