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Organisational Reform Proposals

Initial Consultation Document

September 2011

This is an important document. It presents the key recommendations from two reports presented recently to the Fianna Fáil Ard Chomhairle. These reports, prepared by Gerard Collins and Chris Flood, made very significant recommendations for organisational reform, designed to greatly improve and enhance the effectiveness of our organisation at all levels. The Fianna Fáil Ard Chomhairle recommended that the key findings be distributed to all Cumainn, Chomhairli Ceantair and Chomhairli Dáil Ceantair. This booklet contains those key findings. This document has been distributed to all members, units and public representatives of the organisation. All rule changes must be approved by the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis, to be held in the RDS, Dublin next February. In advance of this Ard Fheis, there will be a significant consultation process with members and units. This booklet is Phase 1 of this process. Please study the recommendations contained herein. All Chomhairli Dáil Ceantair have been asked to meet to consider these recommendations for organisational reform. All members and units are invited to make submissions, comments, observations and recommendations. These will be considered by the Fianna Fáil Ard Chomhairle at its November meeting. At this meeting, the Ard Chomhairle will agree the final recommendations for organisational reform to be put before the Ard Fheis. These will be circulated to all members and units during December, for consideration and discussion, in advance of the Ard Fheis. You should make your submissions to Seán Dorgan, General Secretary, Fianna Fáil, Áras De Valera, 65-66 Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2, or by email to The closing date for receipt of submissions is Friday 4th November, 2011.

September 2011

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Organisational Reform Proposals Initial Consultation Document Introduction
This year has been a challenging one for all dedicated to Fianna Fáil. There is much work to do. In renewing Fianna Fáil, we must look at all aspects of our party: our aims and objectives, our policies, how we communicate both within the organisation and to the public. It is clear that we must also look at how we operate as a national organisation. Earlier this year, Gerard Collins, Joint Honorary Secretary of Fianna Fáil and Chris Flood, former Minister of State completed very extensive consultative studies into the state of health of the Fianna Fáil organisation in Dublin and the provincial cities. Both reports were discussed by the Fianna Fáil Ard Chomhairle in June of this year. The Ard Chomhairle accepted the reports and requested that the key elements of each report be circulated to all units for discussion. This document contains the key findings from both reports for members’ consideration. The central recommendation in both reports is that the organisation should adopt a one member one vote system, while retaining the cumann structure. Under this system, every member would have a voice - and a vote - within the Party. Safeguards would be implemented to ensure no abuse would take place. These proposals, if implemented, would change our party: they would open up and redemocratise our party, empowering our members and putting them at the heart of our organisation. This document is the first stage in the consultation process within our organisation. All Cumainn, Chomhairli Ceantair and Chomhairli Dáil Ceantair are invited to discuss this document over September and October and to submit any views, observations, or comments to the General Secretary by Friday 4th November 2011. The Ard Chomhairle will consider all submissions and communications received at its November meeting and will then formulate a final resolution for consideration at the February 2012 Ard Fheis. All members will be circulated with the final proposals well in advance of the Ard Fheis, for discussion and consideration. Please consider this document carefully. Consult with members in your area and within your unit. Please submit your comments. Your input is vital as we seek to rebuild Fianna Fáil and ensure it can once again take its place in the heart of Irish politics. Thank you for everything you continue to do for Fianna Fáil.

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Organisational Reform Proposals for Consideration
Extracts from the Collins and Flood Reports: Both reports found that many of our Cumainn, Chomhairli Ceantair (CC) and Chomhairli Dáil Ceantair (CDC) units no longer make a worthwhile contribution to the work of the party. The majority of units are registered as required on an annual basis, many with the sole objective of possessing voting rights at candidate selection conventions as well as CC and CDC officer board elections. There are very significant organisational weaknesses in Dublin, other provincial cities and urban centres. The slippage in electoral support has been evident for many years. Many of the organisational difficulties have persisted for a long number of years and were further exacerbated by the failure to fully implement previous recommendations on reform. It is clear that the decline of Fianna Fáil is the result of many factors: organisational weakness being just one contributory factor. The electoral consequences have been evident at both Local Authority and General Election levels. Large swathes of the country, particularly in urban areas, are left without Fianna Fáil representation. This is a most unsatisfactory situation and is clearly unsustainable. Gerard Collins and Chris Flood, along with their respective committees, spent considerable time consulting with members of our organisation at all levels in our cities. Multiple meetings were held in each constituency. Their findings and recommendations are based on these consultations. It is clear that there are a number of challenges which we, as a political organisation, must face up to. Organisational reform is one such challenge. These reform proposals will lead to a stronger, more representative, more open and active organisation, with the party member at its core. The Ard Chomhairle recommends that these recommendations be applied nationally.

1. 2. 3. 4. It is proposed that the Fianna Fáil Organisation moves to a One Member One Vote (OMOV) system to replace the delegate votes per Cumann at convention. Each member, of at least 12 months standing, who is a valid active member of a registered Cumann, would be entitled to attend and vote at cumann, CC and CDC meetings, AGMs, candidate selection conventions and Ard Fheiseanna. A clear effective route would be put in place to enable applicants to join the party on a prompt/trouble-free basis. Those unwilling to engage in political activity on behalf of the party cannot be
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Organisational Reform Proposals Initial Consultation Document
considered voting members of the Party, but should be registered as individual members/supporters through Party Headquarters. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. The Ard Chomhairle will be mindful of those members who have given long and valued service to the Party who are no longer physically able to be actively involved. Such members should maintain their full membership and voting rights. Each member would pay an annual subscription to Party Headquarters. This would be a modest subscription, set by the Ard Chomhairle. Members would receive regular updates from the Party along with invitations to participate in events and campaigns. There is a clear commitment to improve communications within the organisation. Individuals may remain members of their Cumann without paying the subscription fee. However, they will not have voting rights. An up to date Register of Members will be maintained by Party HQ, in consultation with the CDC Secretary. A copy of this would be made available to each CDC Secretary in advance of the CDC AGM for verification and updating. This would be returned to Party HQ and the central membership records updated.

Political activity would be a key requirement of membership. On adoption of these rule changes, all current members would be deemed to be activist members. In Dublin (where there are currently no Chomhairli Ceantair), members would also be affiliated to their Local Electoral Area (LEA), for the purposes of local election planning and campaigning. Members should be registered in the constituency where they are ordinarily resident. All members would be provided with training in political and policy understanding on a regular basis. This training should be organised by HQ on at least an annual basis. The member would be made aware of, and accept, the responsibility for the carrying out of political activity as laid down or organised by the CDC. The activities should be determined and agreed by the CDC, which would also have responsibility for monitoring compliance.

Examples of political activity may include the following:
• • • • • • Contributing to party policy discussion and development; Carrying out administrative activities within the CDC; Distributing party political literature between and during election and referenda campaigns for Fianna Fáil and elected representatives; Canvassing for elected representatives between and during election campaigns; Recruiting political activists and individual members; Attending public meetings to promote the party and its public representatives in an area;
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• • • •

Attending party political events including meetings, conventions, fundraising functions etc; Assisting Headquarters and/or public representatives to take up local public opinion polls; Assisting with national and local fundraising efforts; Other activities may be added by the CDC.

1. The Cumann would remain the foundation stone of our organisation. 2. Political and organisational updates and workshops would be provided by Party Headquarters for all cumann officers. 3. AGMs would be conducted on a One Member One Vote basis. 4. Cumainn AGMs should be decoupled from Cumainn registration in order to facilitate Cumainn AGMs being attended by public representatives throughout the year. 5. Cumainn should register with Headquarters in January of each year and make a declaration of its activities, its membership and finances (the latter to ensure compliance with the Standards in Public Office regulations). 6. Cumann activities for the year could include the following: policy discussion and debate, taking up the national collection, assisting in meeting the Cumann’s National Draw targets, distributing leaflets for the party and its candidates, ensuring the electoral register is accurate for their area, canvassing, volunteering to assist the national party at various meetings or for specific projects or tasks. 7. Cumainn meetings should focus on raising local issues,along with other national or Party matters. 8. Each member would be automatically assigned to the Cumann where they live, though applicants may be admitted to another Cumann if they display a strong connection or commitment to that Cumann’s area. 9. Cumainn would retain the right to refuse membership for specified reasons, subject to appeal to a higher unit. 10. Cumainn which are inactive, or are “paper” Cumainn, should be encouraged to merge with other Cumainn contiguous to them.

Comhairle Ceantair (CC)
1. The CC would be the centre of organisational activity, coordinating political activity in its area and working closely with the CDC. 2. Membership of the CC would consist of all subscribed members of all Cumainn within its area.
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Organisational Reform Proposals Initial Consultation Document
3. Each CC would register in the month of February and make a declaration of its activities and financial returns. 4. CC AGMs would take place in the first quarter of the year. 5. CC AGMs would be decoupled from CC registration and Cumainn AGMs. 6. Elections and decisions at AGMs would be on a OMOV basis. 7. The CC should meet at least six times per annum to provide a forum for discussion and debate among members. 8. At least two of these meetings should be open to the public in a “Town Hall” style for public discussions on party policy matters and other matters of local interest. 9. Each CC meeting should incorporate a social element into its annual programme, i.e. annual dinner, social function, long-service awards evening, coffee mornings, pub quiz and other outings.

Comhairle Dáil Ceantair (CDC)
1. 2. 3. 4. The CDC would incorporate all registered cumainn within its area resulting in all established cumainn members becoming members of the CDC on a One Member One Vote basis and taking up membership of the CDC. Membership of the CDC should comprise each member of the organisation in the CDC area. The elected officer board should meet monthly and would have responsibility for managing CDC activity between full CDC meetings. CDC-organised Annual Conferences should be held giving all members within the constituency an opportunity to debate policy matters and have their views responded to by public representatives. It is expected that a senior Party figure would attend such gatherings. Each conference would have the right to submit motions to the Ard Chomhairle. Constituency Youth and Recruitment Organisers should be appointed in each CDC. Gender balance should be applied during the introduction of these new arrangements. The current quota requirement would remain for the election of all officer positions. The CDC should register during the month of February and make a declaration of its activities and financial returns. CDC AGMs should take place in the first quarter of the year. CDC AGMs should be decoupled from CDC registration and constituent unit AGMs.

5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

10. New members should be ordinarily resident in the CDC area. (It is not the intention that established members should have to transfer to another CDC per the residency requirement).
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11. New members will not be entitled to a vote until they have been enrolled for a period of one year and are in compliance with the requirements for political activity. 12. The CDC would be the central membership grouping of the Activist Members in Dublin. 13. The CDC management structure would now consist of a Constituency Manager (to replace the Chairperson) and officer board chosen by the CDC members using the OMOV system. 14. The CDC Officer Board would be chaired by the Constituency Manager and would include a Secretary and the Chairpersons of the four activity-based subcommittees namely: • • • • Political Activity and Communication; Finance and Compliance; Recruitment and Membership Development; Ógra Constituency Development Committee.

General Outline of Responsibilities
Constituency Manager • • • • • Overall executive responsibility for CDC activities. With the Constituency Delegate, would conduct regular unit audits of the 4 CDC committees. With CDC Officer Board, he/she would set targets for the year ahead. Would plan political activity with the organisation and/or public reps. Would chair all CDC meetings and invite guest speakers.

Political Activity and Communications Committee • • • • Would organise regular canvasses with all public reps invited to participate in an organisation driven activity. Arrange the constituency into specific canvass blocks (parish by parish, LEA by LEA, estate by estate) and appoint canvass managers in each with specific goals capable of measuring specific political activity. Conduct informal research to determine voter views and develop local policy positions. These should be issues-orientated rather than Fianna Fáil orientated. Organise volunteers for radio phone-ins, letter writing, emailing etc.
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Organisational Reform Proposals Initial Consultation Document
Finance/Compliance • • • • • • • Conduct fundraising for the CDC with a specific financial goal each year. Organise the National Collection. Conduct one social function which should be self-financing for the CDC. Others should be organised, where possible, to bring members and supporters together. Ensure accurate accounts are maintained along with full compliance with Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) guidelines and regulations at all times. Support national fundraising initiatives, e.g. the national superdraw. Collect annual membership fee in co-operation with Headquarters. Ensure that the roll of members is up-to-date and accurate and that this information is forwarded to HQ in a timely manner and on an annual basis.

Recruitment/Membership Services • • • • • Identify areas in the CDC which are under-represented by Party members and activists and conduct canvasses to recruit specific members. Appoint mentor/liaison persons to welcome new members. Conduct induction sessions for new members and ensure that all new applicants can join easily. Be the liaison with HQ for all CDC training. Target other voluntary organisations for new members.

Constituency Delegate • • • • • • In general, there needs to be a significant improvement in the connection between the Constituency Delegate and the CDC. The Constituency Delegate should conduct regular unit audits in conjunction with the Constituency Manager. He/she would liaise with HQ and the Ard Chomhairle on all organisational matters pertinent to the CDC. Ensure annual returns of units based on standard format decided by Organisation Committee of the National Executive. Act as a conduit with the Ard Chomhairle, with an overall Party responsibility as opposed to a CDC responsibility. Present regular reports to the Ard Chomhairle on all matters of relevance and interest to their constituency, e.g. policy, organisational, finance and registration.

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Director of Elections • • • • • Prepare and co-ordinate Party and candidate strategy for upcoming elections. Liaise with HQ and all units within the constituency and ensure effective consultation on all election related issues takes place. Manage the organisation and its resources at election time to maximise the Fianna Fáil vote in each area. Implement a canvass strategy and ensure the party message is publicised locally. Act as an arbitrator to ensure all candidates are afforded maximum opportunity for success.

Candidate Selection
1. 2. 3. All constituency candidate selection conventions would be conducted via the one member one vote system. All members qualified to vote would be eligible to participate. To be entitled to voting rights, each member must: • • 4. 5. 6. 7. be a member for at least twelve months. have an up-to-date subscription status.

Cumainn/CC/CDC Units would no longer have voting rights at conventions. The Ard Chomhairle may direct that District Conventions be held to ensure a representative panel of candidates. The Ard Chomhairle would reserve the entitlement to add or remove candidates and/or to determine the total number of candidates to be selected at convention. The Organisation commits itself to meaningful consultation with the organisation in each constituency in advance of each convention.

Other Recommendations
The following are some of the additional recommendations: • • • • Training Days would be held for Cumainn officers, on an annual basis. These would be organised by Headquarters. Systems should be established to support units to secure senior party figures and independent experts / commentators as guest speakers at events. Public representatives and members would be encouraged to distribute party or candidate literature door-to-door outside of election times. The Party should significantly improve its use of social media and email to enhance communications with members.
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Organisational Reform Proposals Initial Consultation Document
• • • • • • Members would be encouraged to bring local issues / concerns to the notice of elected representatives who should properly log the issues and take responsibility for follow-up. Each unit of the organisation should have an email address for internal party and public communications. Regular meetings would be held with each Officer Board to review progress and plan the task ahead. An Implementation Group would be established to implement these changes, once agreed. Funds would be allocated to enable the development and implementation of an in-house and on going comprehensive skills training programme to cater for all officers and units of the party to include potential electoral candidates. Party Headquarters should be a source of the fullest constituency and national information to elected representatives, the organisation and its members. In addition, HQ will develop an effective mechanism to encourage and channel policy participation from members. Specific resources will be committed by the Party to the establishment of a Dublin team, under the leadership of a Dublin Director. This will comprise a back-up team, ensuring all Dublin constituencies and the four local authority regions are effectively covered.

Ard Chomhairle
It is proposed that the Ard Chomhairle should be reformed and given a more central role in organisational and policy development matters. Greater use would be made of subcommittees to ensure that it becomes more efficient in its business.

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