Knowledge Democracy: the potential of participatory and deliberative democratic research in applied academy, community and policy contexts


Posted on behalf of Dr Clodagh Harris (UCC) and Dr Gemma Carney (QUB)

On Monday April 7th the PSAI specialist group on participatory and deliberative democracy in partnership with Campus Engage will be hosting a seminar on ‘Knowledge Democracy: the potential of participatory and deliberative democratic research in applied academy, community and policy contexts’.

Professor Gerry Stoker (University of Southampton), the key note speaker will present on ‘Using research to see like a citizen’. Other papers will look at the relevance of political science, civic engagement in higher education, and citizen participation and empowerment in local government. The seminar will run from 10-1pm and will take place in the NUI offices in Merrion Square. All are welcome. Please contact Dr Gemma Carney at to register. Full programme below. Continue reading

Sovereignty Regained: Has the bailout changed the Irish State?

On April 4th, the Department of Government at UCC will host a one day conference Sovereignty Regained: Has the bailout changed the Irish State? The conference brings together a group of Irish politics academics, columnists and political editors who will consider the post bailout political environment for voters, parties and public office holders. Paper givers will assess the reform agenda, its implementation and the evolution of public institutions since the crisis. All are welcome and a full programme for the day is available below. To register please contact Margaret O’Leary by email at Continue reading

It’s not just the Commissioner, stupid!

Elaine Byrne, 25 March 2014

The traditional attitude to scandal in Ireland is to politicise and personalise. We move on once the head-on-the-plate has been delivered. Or we just move on without it. The third anniversary of the Moriarty Tribunal fell last weekend – but let’s not go there (the hot weather in exile is some compensation). 

Let’s get it right this time. The government are actually introducing far-reaching legislation that will make elements of Ireland’s ethical infrastructure that of international best practice. Ireland is not corrupt but that perception is there because we mess up on the small stuff. 

The resignation of the Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan should not have happened. He was damned if he did, damned if he didn’t – long before his “disgusting” remarks about whistleblowers.



What should happen now?

For the last 18 months I was a consultant on the European Commission anti-corruption report on Ireland. This involved liaising with stakeholders from many of Ireland’s watchdog agencies. The problems they articulated were similar across the board - resource capability, legislative limitations, overlapping responsibilities and ability of the different oversight organisations to co-operate and share information. I wrote about this here and hereAn independent audit of all oversight agencies is long overdue, as articulated by former financial regulator Mathew Elderfield last year.

The Garda Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) has made two specific reform proposals (among many others). 

1. Reform the whistleblower framework 

GSOC should act as the external confidential recipient. A position where the Gardaí receive complaints of corruption or malpractice about themselves was never a runner. Changes to the whistleblowing framework are already underway, there was a high level Inter-Departmental meeting on this issue already this week. 

2. The Garda Commissioner must be subject to civilian oversight 

GSOC currently have responsibility to oversee policing but this does not extend to the Commissioner. GSOC should have the capacity to investigate allegations of misbehaviour by the Garda Commissioner where it is in the public interest.


British Irish Institutional Structures: Towards a New Relationship

IPS Image

Posted on behalf of John Coakley

This blog presents the arguments from a paper in the special issue of IPS ‘Breaking Patterns of Conflict in Northern Ireland’ . Available here

The last years of the twentieth century and the early years of the twenty-first were marked by a steady but little noticed redefinition of the British-Irish institutional landscape. This is all the more striking since it emerges from a significant reformulation of the nationalist narrative, which in the early years of the state, and, indeed, up to 1949, had been marked by a dismantling of links with the United Kingdom.

The most important institution in principle emerged out of the negotiations between Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government and Garret FitzGerald’s Fine Gael-Labour coalition: the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference established by the Anglo-Irish agreement of 1985. Overtly designed to give the Irish government a voice in the British government’s administration in Northern Ireland, it also placed pressure on unionists to negotiate a power-sharing deal, since the Conference would not have jurisdiction over areas managed by a devolved administration in Belfast. Continue reading

The Complexity of British-Irish Interdependence

Posted on behalf of Paul Gillespie

This blog presents the arguments from a paper in the special issue of IPS ‘Breaking Patterns of Conflict in Northern Ireland’, available here The transformation of British-Irish relations from dependence to interdependence from the 1960s to the 2000s occurred in an international setting dominated by both states’ membership of the EEC/EC/EU and their various relations with the USA’s global hegemony, politically and economically. The paper interprets these changes by reference to complex interdependence and other theories in international relations. Northern Ireland was a central factor in this transformation, but was not its primary cause, since both Ireland and the UK have an abiding interest in normal, stable inter-state relations aside from that conflict. Continue reading

European Commission corruption report on Ireland


Elaine Byrne 3 February 2014

The European Commission published its first Anti-Corruption report today.

Information on the Eurobarometer polls and summaries of each country can be found here

The Ireland chapter is here.

The report makes a number of observations across different sectors of Irish public life. It has commended the government for the reforms it has introduced but states that more needs to be done, particularly when it comes to prosecuting corruption.

The European Commission report was written by European Commission officials from DG Home. It was researched by me with the assistance of Trinity College Dublin, Government of Ireland scholar Mark Carpenter.

Political Party Accounts, Unaccounted For?


Elaine Byrne 31 January 2014

An exchange between the Chair of the Standards in Public Office Commission recently the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Mr. Phil Hogan T.D., with regard to the draft guidelines on political finance largely went by unnoticed. Just as unnoticed were the implications of the far-reaching Electoral (Political Funding) Act 2012. 

The potential effect of the Minister’s decision not to implement the Standard Commission recommendations on party finance is that Fine Gael, and the state’s other political parties, are not obliged to provided a detailed set of accounts until 2016. The cynical might suggest the timing is thus convenient – after the 2016 election.

This is my submission to the Standards Commission, based on research conducted for the IDEA index of political financing, Global Integrity report and the European Commission report on corruption in Ireland. There’s a chapter in my corruption book on political donations in Ireland spanning 1980s-2000s. The submission distinguishes between donations to political parties and individuals from (a)corporations with government contracts, (b) corporations which are actively undergoing a tender process for the procurement of public funded contracts and (c) corporations which are government owned or partially government owned. It also examines multiple donations by the same individual, the role of third parties, the difficulties around accrual v cash receipts and the capacity of the Standards Commission.

Below is my Sunday Business Post column on the implications of the political finance.

Continue reading

RIA discussion forum ‘Models of Bicameralism’


Posted on behalf of the RIA

Venue: Academy House
Date: Tuesday 4 February 2014, 11.00-18.00

Following the recent referendum in which the Irish people rejected the proposal to abolish Seanad Éireann, the question of possible directions for reform has emerged as a significant theme in discussion of political change. The aim of this discussion seminar is to place the current reform discourse in its historical context, provide an overview on the reform of second chambers internationally, and finally act as a forum in which potential proposals for the reform of Seanad Éireann can be discussed. This discussion will consider the following key elements:

The role of the Seanad
The composition of membership
The powers of the Seanad

Continue reading

Reform Alliance Conference

Posted on behalf of Senator Fidelma Healy Eames

The Reform Alliance is looking for ideas on reform in advance of the conference Saturday.

The reforms will be tweeted on a big screen live throughout the sessions and we will also provide space for attendees to tweet their own ideas live on the day with #reform.

Despite some of the media depictions drawing parallels to Daniel O’Connell’s famous “Monster Meetings”, or that this is an Ard Fheis style meeting precipitating the launch of a new party, neither of these representations are accurate. Continue reading

Putting [the same] People First?

Dr. Patrick Collins, Department of Geography, NUIG and Aisling Murtagh, The Whitaker Institiute, NUIG 

It has been termed the most fundamental overhaul of local government in the last 100 years, but will the proposed regional restructuring as laid out by Minister Phil Hogan bring about a change in the entrenched thinking of Irish planning, regardless of scalar scope? Will the devolution of power to a sub national level bring about a fundamental change in how we view economic development in this country? Are the managers of the newly formed regional authorities going to be any different in viewing indigenous entrepreneurship with mistrust and will they continue to entrust the future of the Irish economy on an exogenous-led development model? Continue reading