Austerity has had significant political consequences for Ireland as shown, first, in the dramatic election of the Fine Gael/Labour Coalition in 2011 and, most recently, in the 2016 election that saw both parties lose significant support and ushered in an uncertain political outcome. Throughout this period there has been an unprecedented interest in political reform. This chapter sets this in context. The principal finding is that while there were political reforms between 2011 and 2016 they were, to a large degree, ‘distractive’ rather than ‘constructive’—resulting in little real change to how politics operates in Ireland. There was, however, one significant innovation—in the form of the Irish Constitutional Convention.
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