Cabinet Reshuffle

Bertie Ahern has announced his new cabinet, and there are a fair few changes. The two that interest me most are the new appointments in the departments of Transport and Environment.

Dick Roche TD, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local GovernmentThe new Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government is Dick Roche, Wicklow TD and formerly Minister for State with responsibility for European Affairs. I’m obviously keen to find out what his approach to environmental policy, local government policy, and the electronic voting issue will be, but at this stage we don’t have very much to go on, apart from the following:

  • He has made several fairly vehement attacks on An Taisce. Apparently he has held a grudge against the organisation since they decided not to join him in opposing a development in his constituency. Will he move to remove their status as a Prescribed Organisation under the planning acts?
  • When he appeared on RTE’s Questions and Answers during the height of the e-Voting debate, he appeared to be unaware of the fact that the system the Government were proposing to introduce did not allow for proportional transfers at all stages of the count.

Irish Citizens for Trustworthy e-Voting (ICTE) have already sent the following letter to the new Minister:

On behalf of Irish Citizens for Trustworthy Evoting, may I congratulate you on your Ministerial appointment and wish you every success in your tenure. Further to my previous letters to your predecessor and again on behalf of Irish Citizens for Trustworthy Evoting, I request a meeting with yourself, or high-level representatives from within the Department, at the earliest opportunity.

Irish Citizens for Trustworthy Evoting (ICTE) is a group of ordinary citizens, including technical and legal experts, who believe that no electronic voting system can be trustworthy unless it includes a Voter-Verified Audit Trail (VVAT). ICTE is not opposed to Evoting per se, or the undeniable accessibility benefits it has the potential to offer and is keen that Ireland have a trustworthy voting system that enhances our international reputation.

As made clear on page 23 of the Commission on Electronic Voting’s Interim Report and in the overwhelming majority of submissions made to the Commission, we hope to explain why the need for a VVAT cannot be rationally rejected, and why a system lacking a VVAT can never satisfy the fundamental and constitutional requirements of a secure, secret and accurate democracy.

As further time, money and other resources are currently being spent on the testing and evaluation of an Evoting system which does not include a VVAT – which, in the words of the Commission on Electronic Voting “significantly raises the standards and quality of other system testing that is required” – I respectfully request that a meeting be held in the near future.

The new Minister for Transport, on the other hand, we’re quite familiar with, as it’s none other than Martin Cullen, who has been responsible for some of the most regressive legislation to have emerged from this Government, as well as a display of culpable ignorance and arrogance over the attempted introduction of electronic voting. I have no idea what his approach to the Department of Transport will be, but I am assuming it will be a continuation of Seamus Brennan’s privatisation agenda, mixed with his own personal brand of political vandalism.

Martin Cullen’s single accomplishment as Minister for the Environment was the introduction of the plastic bag levy. While I don’t grudge him this, it’s worth noting that the idea was first introduced by the Green Party in a motion to Dublin City Council, many years ago.

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