A person discussing their experience of being part of the Galway Citizen's Jury Project as part of the EUARENAS Project.

um firstly, I was preparing for it with a group of people. Um, who, you know, were working with me and to try to set up this project a citizen jury project, thinking it out, developing it there. There were some very, very significant people. I mean, there was a former secretary of the government

There was a former director of a big institute personal administration, How you can figure in the wheel, which is a big, um, that published my report. So on. Apart from that, it was a great sense of camaraderie

Um oh, actually, I missed one lady who came on later on, um, she she is head of a task, which is a think tank. So there were about five or six and then two others, and another was in the university university of another private, uh, freelance consultant. So there were a great, um, there was a great sense of camaraderie much more than just, uh, you know, doing things and doing work

That's one thing. And then when the the jury got going, it became something else again. There was a terrific sense

That's the thing I remember. Mostly the most inspiring. I suppose what I found

But people you know, this group of people who just volunteered from, you know, the citizens of Galway After hearing either a a radio programme or in the national in the local newspaper, they came together and they really gelled. They really were, you know, kind of inspired. There was a sense that they were inspired by something they were doing

I really did get that sense, and and I got to know them well over two years, we were working together for two years. That's another factor that they were. They were, actually, you know, working hard at it for two years

Um, I also inspired by the simple idea they came up with, um of, um, talking about, um, you know, the idea being that they should talk to, they want to hear and be taught by people working for the state of ground level. That's how they wanted their. We knew that we had to have some course in public administration

This was the course they themselves designed. And it was brilliant because we had to get this group together, which was a lot of work. But when we did, they came together

There is something very significant to say, very particular to say. And, um, when they finally did so and then we were able to go to people in charge of the various organisations and one was health with housing and public, uh, public, Um, public security, not public security, is what we talking about. Social Security

Yeah, Um, so, you know, the whole thing was I just look back, kind of an amazement, actually. And also the fact that you guys all these years later start picking it up and running with it. And the word was amazement

I really am amazed. But was it well received by the people in power? Because I know you have these, uh, cartoons of, like, the higher up ministers and everything. And how did that go? Well, actually, that went very well

I mean, but I can tell you that two out of three institutions adopted a very specific change on the foot of this jury calling for it. That's pretty good. Yeah, this is the question

I wanna ask. What was the specific things that got enacted or changed because of the specific things was first of all, we asked the public services who came together. What problem do you see? And they came up with a very specific problem

Supposing you're, uh, youngish. You're doing pretty well. But suddenly you you come up with a very serious illness that you lose your income, you lose your job, possibly lose your housing

OK? So in order to deal with this situation, you have to First of all, you not have much money, but you haven't got insurance. So you have to approach the health authority. You have to approach, um, then the housing and then social welfare

But each time you do this, they ask you what's your you know, what are your details? And of course, anyone given details is a bit of a unpleasant affair. But when you're in the you're also humiliated in that sort of situation. You know, you are doing fine a few months ago and then suddenly So it's humiliating thing to to give you details, but they need to have it so you can't complain at one level

But then the thing is, I I go First of all say to you in housing and you ask me in my details and I give it to you and that's fine. Then I have to go down the road to social welfare and they ask for exactly the same details. And I say, Well, who are the people in housing? And to be told that they can't do that because of, um, data protection? And so you know, the the these public servants were saying, This is painful for us in our mind for people coming in

So we came up with this. Now there were three or the jury then said a simple answer. And it was It was a simple answer

Give them a printout of what you've just told them. I give you. I go to your health

You can now print out to me. What I what I told you Next time I go to hand in the printed paper and so on, so forth. These are small things, but obviously in such a situation that these public servants So it is the word disheartening

I remember in their report on fine. So that was adopted certainly by the social welfare who actually generalised it to giving everyone a right to have to know the social welfare history. OK, then it was also adopted by the County council

Um, but the third one was the health authority, which in Ireland is a very special study. It's it's really it's known for being dysfunctional in the way it runs itself. Um, and so we have put together two out of three very specific results

And, of course, it involved developing relations with the, you know, with the, uh, various officials as well in advance. You know, we were really well known to the county Council because they were at the start with the the very man who I think he still is in social welfare. He was very helpful and interested, but then in in the health, we got to one guy who would allow people social welfare to do, you know, to attend this project

But the person in charge of, um, uh, credit cards was in Dublin and there was no intermediary. Nothing was, was it was totally centralised. So I went up to this guy I remember as well talking about I just see him say to me, I'm not going to give this guy an inch

He thinks he knows it all. He thinks he's a smart ass and he was He said things to me like, Well, we've had no feedback like that. The reason is that it isn't wasn't in any position to have feedback

You know what I mean? But so I mean, it was I mean, before you, it wasn't as if when, you know, you got in touch with me saying, Oh, we achieved nothing. You know, I was very proud of what we've done. Um, but we didn't

We hadn't done any further, which is a pity. But when you opened up this issue, now I feel yes. And I feel it does justice to the sense of determination, almost sheer sense of determination in the group they all times on

I know it was only seven today, but those things happen, but, um, I I hope there will be more today, actually, and find ways of finding out what happened. They probably tell me. And was there something that, uh, you would have liked to have enacted, but you got, like, pushback

Um, sorry. In relation to what? During the, uh, during the What's this thing? Uh, during the jury during the jury. But actually, the actual work, you know, was very easy

the toughest bit of my work on the jury was keeping two members in particular, you know, kind of from taking over. These guys are just valuable characters, you know. And that's why I No, I just just shut them up

And because everyone knew, You know, if you got to move together and who are those two characters you don't know and they don't accept themselves, and these are good, hardest people. That's the other thing I realised, you know, maybe be a bit a bit of a handful, but they're good, but there's nothing that so we have. Certainly the whole point of it was for people to come up with what they wanted

But, you know, at the very start, it was very clear that they were unhappy. And in fact, there was a report who give you by a woman called Helen Newman about the jurors, you know, an independent assessment. And when I frustrated, I was very discouraged because she the the the picture she painted

An accurate one was of a lot of frustration and a lot of annoyance and a lot of quite a lot of negativity. But then I began to see you know, and and you began to see in the midst of this, there's nothing. This has nothing to do with the process of the jury

This is to do with how they found the encounter with the state. The jury thing was fine. For that point of view, there wasn't an issue

So, so to speak. I can I can send you that, um, report if if I haven't already done so. Actually, I think you did send me the report

It was the wheel, right? Hm. So it was the wheel. No, no, this wasn't the wheel

No, no, this is this is something. This is a confidential report done for, Um, you know, when we were winding up. So we commission report of how the internal dynamic of the jury, you know, someone someone who is a bit, you know, with with a more objective profession assessment doesn't me say everything's right

That's basically and, uh, as I was taking the back at first and as they discouraged. And now, actually, no, they're talking about this experience of coming up against the state that is the jury to do. And why do you think there was a bit of a divide, though, uh, like, I look into this questions of, uh, rural and urban in my own research

Yeah. What do you mean, it was a divide? I mean, it was you know, you said that some people wanted, uh, to take over a bit or in a negative way or anything like that. Yeah

No, this this This was not a kind of a power play consciously than anyone. This is so two guys who once they got talking, you can't shut them up, OK? They talk all day that that most Irish people. But this is a particularly bad case of it

Uh, but you get it. This is not this is not kind of people playing power politics, right? In a movie like that, They just, um you know, as as they would push with, sort of, you know, push it back in them. There was never any hard feelings, you know, because, uh, they they knew they'd know self awareness to know that they they can come on a bit strong at time

So there was There was one character in the jury which who was interesting perspective. He was in a major dispute with the County Council, and I decided in was kind of saying, Oh, this is only funded by the county Council. What can you expect from it? So I really put a lot of work into getting to stay on board, Really? A lot of work to me to talk to him again

And so on so forth. Eventually he did go on board, and eventually it reached a point where, you know, normally each day, people would choose each meeting that the jurors would choose Um a, um, what you call it, um, a chairperson. OK, but it got to the point where they stopped choosing and just left the job to Terry

You know, um because obviously you want to trust you. You know, a very competent man. I mean, how important to play a part in this session on to me, he said, Look, I he does this a bit

A bit of a thing when he says that, but I'm not sure I'd be able to make it open my eyes and work. But at the same time, he's phenomenally, uh, you know, he does a lot of work, you know, and I wouldn't and he did. You know, as I say, he finally did come on board when I really But I had to work on him

He really played hard to get. Um But, um, so he's the I think he now was taking the county council to court, by the way, uh, and you know, so at the same time. So I was very keen to have him just just to say, we don't have kind of nice people

Just have nice people. Terrible to say, But the others anyway. Yeah, so that's the situation

But I'd be happy to talk more and more about this and you can get a good sort of story because there was plenty of things I would have done wrong. I did do wrong, you know, I would have done better. OK, what could you have done better then? Do you think? Ok, um, now we could start this at a time when Juries were not sort of flavour of the month or any flavour at all

They're just not a future I would have tried to get, um, you know, more effective random selection. And to go on the, you know, get get a hold of the voters register and do some kind of route in that way, if we had if you had the resources to do that, you went and said someone Look, will you do this? And I say no, you know, you know, that sort of thing. So that's what I would would love to have done to start with

Um then also we did change. We were having these listening vibes around the country, which were a bit of a disaster. In many ways, we didn't We didn't do our publicity for them

We should we should have used. We did have before we started a radio session with, um, you know, talking about the jury, and we didn't I don't know how you look back and say, How could I have not made use of that? You know, we should have used that session this week. We'll be having a meeting at such and such place

So it would be an obvious place to get people gathering and talking and so on, so forth. And that's another thing I'd use. Um, but having said that, you know, the the whole the idea of getting the state servants, public servants involved was not something I'd ever thought of before we knew when we were setting up the whole thing

We scratched our heads like nobody's business, wondering what we would do and what we did eventually do was we said we would wait until they wanted to learn about something in particular. Um, and they answered that question in spades because not only did they want to learn something in particular, they want to learn it from particular people, which is way beyond anything we might think of, you know, at the same time. I mean, I've written a book on democracy, and the gist of it is the important role which the public servant has to play in giving feedback from citizens because that it needs to be part of the way, you know, good public service works, so But I did

I wasn't talking to the jurors about that at all, but they can set up a way of doing this, which for me was, uh, you know, just kind of amazing. But, um, but, I mean, I feel I I'm not a a um a a What do you call it? Um, you know, I'm not a trained group facilitator. I've done work, and, you know, I done done exercises during the year, and I picked up a lot, and I figure with that, Well, if you're looking for a kind of a, um, a amount of Yeah

What? What? How How would you rate performance? I would just simply say, after eight years, they're all enthusiastic to be back in touch. I think, Um, that's good enough. You know how with that? Well, OK, um, so, yeah, that's there

There are the things that I would say, as I say, there was the, um you know, the the the Juries. Um I mean, I was intimidated by the very idea of jury selection, and probably far too much. So, you know, um, then also the fact of the, you know, the the listening section, the sessions, you know, really, really did a bad job there, and I did a bad job there, you know? Um, yeah, I I I probably shouldn't bring this up because it we haven't flowed into it yet

And I know how Haley wants to do these things, but, uh, so we've met about four times. Now, the one thing you haven't brought up in all the times we've met is your work with the church. How did? And spirituality and all these other things

How did that impact this? Well, ok, um, I before I I joined the Jesuits. I studied law geologically from Trinity College, Dublin. OK, then I joined from there, and, um then I I remember when I joined, I thought I'd be putting that behind me again

I have nothing more to do with it. So good by, um, So then a few years later, I remember just the man in charge of the Irish church saying, we need lawyers, and he literally judge when he said he said it, but I realised he wanted He wanted me to look into that. So I don't know if, during your time in Dublin you would have come across an out called the National College of Ireland

Yes, I know the National College of Ireland, but you know its background. No, I do not. OK

It was founded in 19 fifties as, uh, the, um, Catholic Workers College. And, um, it was, you know, to Catholic social teaching social teacher. I know if you are familiar with that with the church and so on

Um and, um it went on developed. And then it was it started for just, um, people of no education after, you know, the primary school. Then, as the population became more educated, it's now the faculty of industrial relations in the country

In many respects, um, and I was teaching there as a student for the and it also, you know, labour law, labour, Um, uh, labour history and other other other topics. So after that, I went off. I was sent off to do a masters in the Columbia Law School

Um, in in New York, and it was I mean, I was told to go there. It's a big name. You can get in, do something

That's as much as I had to do. But in fact, um, the the the Columbia Law School. Um, well, I could have done stuff on on labour law, but I didn't want to do American labour law

I mean, it's it's just a bit of a you know, I just want to do that. So the general sort of degree a masters in legal theory, Sorry, constitutional theory. And, um, what's the word? Constitutional, political theory

Yeah, it's quite a wide degree in in that sense. So, um, it came back, taught for a number of years in the college of industrial relations for the National College of Industrial Relations and then would later become the National College of Ireland. So, um, after a while, I was I was unhappy

I wanted to do something. I Now this will be, uh, this, but I kind of the sense that the Irish Church is heading in for difficult times. Uh, the teaching law was not what I should be doing

Um, so I wanted to start moving into a pastoral work. I taught in a school for two years. Then at the end of that, I said, No, this is enough for me

Um, you can't go from third to second level if you're a teacher. Um, So then, um, I ended up working in Dublin's inner city. Where exactly? And Gardner Street, we, the church there in Garner Street

It's the Jesuit church. Not too far. I used to live near Gardiner Street

So where abouts? Uh, there was a big hole in the ground at that point because they were doing, uh, a dig I forget the name of the building? Mhm. Not too far from the station. The Fitzgibbon street? Yeah

Fitzgibbon Street. OK, Yeah. Yeah, right on

Good flat land. Um, as we call it. Good

It's good. Flat land. It's kind of a tough enough part of the country of the city

Um, but anyway, anyway, that's OK, but I I know what you're talking about. Um, And then, um, while I was there, I got very much involved with the anti drugs movement. Um, and I basically became a leader of a citywide, called itself the Citywide Drugs Crisis Campaign, but also locally, I was chair of the Hard Street Tenant Development Group, and I was very much involved in the whole issue of the local politics and trying to help people out and so on

That's why I began to get interested in the whole Democratic process in a new way, looking at it from the dysfunction rather than knowing that the theory and I, um So I got to be, so we had to move away from, um, that, you know, the I mean, there was a lot pastoral sort of work on doing a lot of stuff and setting up choirs and all kinds of stuff like that. It was great. Um, but then I decided to I needed to, um hold on

Yeah, I I need to to move into something more specifically kind of really Bring back my legal stuff and use it more directly. It's a way. I mean, I don't know if you know much about the Jesuits, because we we would see ourselves very much as, um being focused on the intellectual intellectual life in a very broad sense

I mean, we could do it. There are Jesuit astronomers. There are certainly plenty of Jesuit lawyers

You know, Jesuit. I don't know if there are any Jesuit archaeologists. I'd be surprised if they are, but that's that's the sort of the way

So anyway, I got involved. Um, and, uh, after, you know, I I what happened was I was involved in European politics in Ireland and this particular man I said, Look, I'm thinking of writing about democracy. So he gathered 20 people to he's the founder of what's called the Institute of European and International Affairs

But he found he does this group of five members of Parliament and five different parties, four senior public servants and about nine people from I I Some of the NGO s NGO world. That was my I was able to do that. So I end up writing this book called Democracy and Public Happiness, in which I emphasised the importance of the need to, you know, for for public servants to have the right to represent That's the way I put it

In other words, that, you know, they have something to say. They can't decide, but they can represent make their voices heard. So anyway, so I did that

I also got involved in, um, you know, a bit a bit of European politics, element of things. And then come the Lisbon referendum. If you may remember that the second Lisbon Referendum I was one of the seven people really who led the campaign to, you know, to keep Ireland in the European Union

And I'd be I'd be very close to people like Pat, who is a former president of the European Parliament, um, and others others, too, particularly Pat. So, um, that so that's how I mean it. It's it's We see it as part of our way of doing things of our charism to look at social structures and political structures and to, you know, figure new ways of doing things

So hence there is an outfit called the Jesuit Refugee Service, which is, you know, all around the world. The the the main person, the director of it in Europe is lives with me here in Brussels.

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