Yesterday’s High Court decision, Doherty v Government of Ireland has resulted in global coverage of the Irish Government’s reluctance to engage with democracy. This is a brief overview of what has been said.
The Financial Times, unsurprisingly discussed the issue together with the dire state of the country’s finances and the Government’s response to it. Reuters followed a similar pattern, mentioning the possibility of the IMF intervening should the budget not achieve the aims of organising the country’s finances to the satisfaction of the markets. The BBC put slightly more emphasis on the fact that it was a Sinn Féin councillor who succeeded in winning the case, but also focused on some of detail of Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns judgment.
The Washington Post focused on the student protests regarding student fees together with the High Court judgment. It stressed that holding this by-election alongside the other seats that are currently also vacant will probably mean the end of the Fianna Fáil led Government. The Boston Globe coverage centred on the fact that the Government had to be pushed into holding this election. The Canadian Press Association again centres on the impact that losing the by-election will have on the current Government. The Wall Street Journal took a similar approach, quoting members of the opposition parties.
The more recent coverage of Ireland in the world media has largely focused upon the economic downturn, however this judgment has brought to the world’s attention the doubtful nature of Ireland’s immediate democratic credentials. It is not good for Ireland to be known as a state where the Government fails to hold elections it knows that it will lose, to the point when the judiciary is forced to intervene. In many ways it makes Ireland look like a state that is not a democracy but rather a state where those in power are able to stay no matter the democratic wishes of the electorate. Hopefully these by-elections will all be held rapidly in order that the business of rectifying the economy can be gotten on with.