Democracy and Citizen Engagement: Discussion about Australia and Ireland
A panel consisting of SPIR’s Marija Taflaga and Ian McAllister, CSRM’s Nick Biddle and University of Canberra’s Nicole Curato, discussed Australian and Irish perspectives on democracy with the Irish Electoral Commissioner, Mr Art O’Leary, on 12 October, in the Shine Dome.
Mr O’Leary outlined Ireland’s experiments with deliberative assemblies and how it had restored public trust in politics. The academic panellists highlighted other potential democratic reforms and how they might reinvigorate the democratic process.
The discussion was a valuable opportunity to share academic and practitioner perspectives on democratic reform from two countries with similar political cultures.
Mr Art O’Leary is responsible for the preparatory institutional and administrative arrangements for the establishment of the Electoral Commision of Ireland - ECI. He is also Secretary to two separate Citizens’ Assemblies dealing with the Crisis of Biodiversity Loss in Ireland and a consideration of the form and function of Local Government structures in Dublin. From 2014-2021, Art served as Secretary General and Chief Advisor to Irish President Higgins. From 2012-2014, he was Secretary to the Irish Constitutional Convention, a citizen-led initiative to consider constitutional change on a wide range of issues including the electoral system and marriage equality. Art has served in senior procedural and administrative roles in the Irish Parliament for over 20 years. He has an MBA from Henley Business School.