Note: This letter was published in partial form in the Sunday Independent on 8th January 2023. It is published here in its full form.
Robert Sullivan quite correctly hit on the growing problem of our elected representatives abdicating their responsibilities to a "citizens assembly". We did not elect our politicians for them to hand over decision making to an unelected group of randomly (some commentators say hand -picked) chosen citizens. It is a ploy politicians use in order to give credence to a narrative they want pushed, and to distance themselves from a policy and paint it as "peoples decision".
The whole concept is so Orwellian. George Orwell had "peoples assemblies" in his fictitious works on brutal totalitarian regimes. The purpose of the peoples assemblies was to give credence to a narrative that the authorities wanted pushed. The Nazi and Soviet regimes had "show trials" where hand-picked "random" juries were bombarded with a one sided narrative, and then asked to make a decision. This decision was always made well in advance, but this was their method of putting an almost democratic gloss on it. The recent citizens assembly on biodiversity was such a show trial. It was another trial of Irish farmers and all the expected recommendations were made.
It is 100 years since we secured the right to self-determination. A lot of people made huge sacrifices during the War of Independence and during the Civil War. Great people worked hard to develop a workable, fair, representative, democratic system. What eventually transpired became the template for many emerging nations.
Some of these emerging nations evolved into totalitarian regimes because they did not stick to the democratic principles. A very telling example of this is Russia, which came tantalisingly close to being a fully fledged democracy. However, a corrupt leadership allowed unelected interests to wield a controlling influence, and of course everything was painted as being by the people and for the people.
Democracy is fragile, and our democracy and independence was hard won, and should be respected by those whom we elect. The system of putting together 99 "randomly chosen citizens" and then for six months feeding them a pre-ordained narrative, after which they will be asked to make a recommendation, stinks to high heaven.
It is not for this that our forefathers sacrificed so much. Our democracy should be re-instated.