Big House Parliament

“This could be your time to speak out, as we set the world to rights with some of Ireland’s sharpest wits and smartest minds. Or else just sit back and enjoy the cut-and-thrust of our democratic experiment.”
- Festival Director.

BIG HOUSE Power to the People

Inspired by parliamentarian William “Speaker” Conolly – the man who built Castletown – we’ve set up an alternative citizens’ parliament for one weekend only.

The Dáil may have risen for the summer and the Seanad may have cleared the way for the people to vote it out of existence, but democracy never rests!

Chaired by a number of honorary Speakers, the assembled citizenry will hear a series of engaging and inspirational speakers introduce and speak on short (and sometimes humorous) motions on how we can radically shake up and improve our society, culture, government and economy.

Members of the parliament – that’s you – can make brief points of information and order and, finally, vote for or against each motion. The results will be published online for further comment and discussion as a sovereign Proclamation of the People of the BIG HOUSE Festival.

Day-by-Day Lineup

[The Parliament shall sit daily from 1pm until 3.30pm]

*Speakers and running order subject to change.


Saturday, August 3rd.


Honorary Speaker: Mary O’Rourke, former Minister, TD and Senator.

Motions from:

Willie White, Director of Dublin Theatre Festival

That Dublin’s Northside become the new Southside. Architecturally and in terms of power and influence.

[Proposal carried]

Eamonn McCann, political activist and Hot Press columnist, on a socialist republic.

That the Travelling community in Ireland be accorded status of ethnic minority under EU law.

[Proposal carried]

Philip Boucher Hayes, broadcaster and writer, on a novel approach to recycling

[Proposal carried]

Manchán Magan, broadcaster, writer, traveller, on the public funding of Irish language songs and films through €2 million fund for a competition.

[Proposal carried]

Tom Cullivan, composer, on the need for a new Constitution.

[Proposal carried]

Barry Murphy (aka Guther Grun), comedian, on the need for “change” and the abolition of “inbreeding”

[Proposal carried]

Paddy Cullivan, comedian, satirist, musician, on big decisions and the decision makers who make them and an immediate revolution.

[Proposal carried]

Paul Hayes, games industry PR, on the shaming of bankers and politicians and others.

[Proposal carried]

Carol Hunt, historian and Sunday Independent columnist, on the separation of church and State.

[Proposal carried]

House Adjourned until 1pm on Sunday, August 4th.


Sunday, August 4th.

Honorary Speaker: Fergus Finlay, Chief Executive of Barnardos.

Motions from:

Marty Mulligan, poet, on directly elected mayors.

[Motion carried]

Carol Hunt, columnist with the Sunday Independent, on the separation of church and State.

[Motion carried]

Jennifer Moroney-Ward, educator, community activist, Northside Learning Hub, on the need for investment in the community and voluntary sector.

[Motion carried]

Julie Feeney, musician, on a general commitment to the principle of “Yes, we can” in terms of creative endeavour, entrepreneurship and mental health.

[Motion carried]

Eleanor Tiernan, comedian, that Arthur’s Day be made a national holiday.

[Motion lost]

Marie Phelan, Big House competition winner, on a natural resources windfall for every citizen.

[Motion carried]

Margaret E Ward, business consultant and journalist, on making women more visible in public discourse.

[Motion carried]

Stephen Curtis, Irish Mortgageholders Association, on debt and banks, combined motion with Brian Lucey, economist, on introducing the Danish model for banks: smaller and more boring.

[Motion carried unanimously]

Colm O’Gorman, executive director Amnesty Ireland, on enshrining the principles of the Republic in law.

[Motion carried]

Trevor White, director of the Little Museum of Dublin, on cancelling 2016.

[Motion carried]


Big House Parliament adjourned until 1pm on Monday, August 5th.


Monday, August 5th.

Honorary Speaker: Brendan Halligan, chairman of the Institute of International and European Affairs, former Labour Party MEP, TD and Senator.

Motions from:

Carol Hunt, historian and columnist for the Sunday Independent, on the separation of church and State.

[Motion carried]

Suzy Byrne, political commentator and disability rights activist, on the State providing for adults with disabilities as of right and to enact the appropriate legislation immediately.

[Motion carried]

Cian Ginty, transport activist, on how Ireland should adapt its towns for bicycles.

[Motion carried]

Padraic Neary, retired precision engineer, on the need to incorporate modern technology into modern economic debate.

[Motion carried]

Michael Trainor, artist, on need for long terms support and advocacy for new cultural activities.

[Motion carried]

Eric Lalor, comedian, on the need as a nation to embrace the embellishment of truth for the marketing of Ireland abroad.

[Motion defeated]

Paddy Cullivan, musician, comedian, satirist, proposes a violent military overthrow of the State.

[Motion  defeated]

Plus additional motions from members of the pubic and occasional guests.

Matters on the Adjournment.


For more info: email

Main House, Level 2, Ballroom @ 1.00 – 3.30 Every Day, #BHParliament.

About Big House Parliament’s – Naoise Nunn

Naoise Nunn established Leviathan political cabaret ten years ago as a forum for public debate and discussion, leavened with satire, comedy and entertainment. It has also formed the core of the MindField spoken word arena at the Electric Picnic since 2006. Previous speakers at Leviathan include Bob Geldof, Naomi Klein, Nell McCafferty, Jon Snow, Alastair Campbell, Peter Mandelson, John Banville, Eamonn McCann and many more.

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