Say well done to the government

IT is the columnist’s business to whinge, bitch and moan. As it is not for us to make real actual decisions, we can only snipe from the sidelines.

And so it is that those whose jobs it is to make decisions rarely get a kind word from us.

Maybe we’re jealous.

In any case I want to break the mould and praise those in charge for a decision that they have made. Or rather, a decision that they have unmade.

Well done to the Government for changing their minds on electronic voting. 

All right, the Government used a commission to tell them the obvious – that computers cannot be trusted 100%. But still, they knew the commission was going to say that when they appointed them.

So they did the right thing – they changed their minds. Precious little thanks they got for it.

The opposition doesn’t see a change of mind as a sign of political maturity. They see it as a sign of political weakness.

This is very bad for the business of politics. How are those in charge to modify their dodgy decisions if they get nothing but condemnation for it? No sooner had electronic voting been abandoned than the opposition were calling for the resignation of Martin Cullen.

What sort of politics is that? The next Minister is a quandary over a controversial issue will say to himself/herself: “Now will I admit I’m wrong and get savaged by all and sundry, or will I stick with the wrong decision and get praised for my courage and tenacity?” 

What would you do?

Appropriate use of technology 

Those of us who opposed e-voting were called Luddites.

This reasoning comes from a very flawed view of the use of technology. 

You don’t use new technology just because it’s there. You use it if their is a material advantage in it over the old technology.

And the right technology will out. Many’s the prospective dot-com millionaire that has learned that bitter lesson.

It shouldn’t be their decision anyway 

There is a fundamental flaw in the democratic make-up of this country.

The flaw is that the government of the day is in charge of the conduct of elections.

This is totally wrong. There should be an independent commission or an all-party committee in charge of elections.

It simply cannot be right that the two parties currently in Government should have the right to change the voting system unilaterally. 

Even if there was no discernable advantage to those parties, elections, and the conduct of elections, should not only be fair but should be seen to be fair.

The date of an election, the opening and closing times of polls, the spending rules, voter ID criteria, amongst other issues should be decided impartially.

The Referendum Commission was a step in the right direction and the Oireachtas should now go ahead and take responsibility for elections out of the hands of the Minister for the Environment.