Conference: Teaching politics in our universities: inspiring, inciting and enlightening

Posted on behalf of Dr Clodagh Harris (UCC)


The PSAI specialist group on teaching and learning in politics is holding an event in the NUI offices, 49 Merrion Square on Friday September 18th 2015. To register for the event, please contact Stefanie Wojtek at before 13:00 September 17th. The event is co-funded by the PSAI and the National Forum for the enhancement of teaching and learning in higher education.

The programme for the day is available below. Continue reading

Politicians ignore citizens at their peril

I’m currently reading José Saramago’s Seeing (a gift from a former student), which tells the story of how panic sets in among a city’s political classes after the vast bulk of the citizens cast a blank ballot in an election. It’s a great read, though I have to admit I thought the storyline a bit far-fetched. Even with all the problems of our political system are we ever likely to end up in a scenario where such large numbers of citizens are so angry that they simply refuse to engage in the political process at all? Granted, electoral turnout is in decline, but outside of the USA and Switzerland across most of the world’s democracies the bulk of citizens still vote.


To my mind Saramago’s image of a citizenry so turned off that they disengage completely from the political system just didn’t seem credible. That was until yesterday when I stood in the centre of Barcelona and witnessed Catalonia’s (now) annual independence day rally of September 11. Continue reading

Social Background and Political Attitudes

Intra-party attitudes graph


Posted on behalf of Michael Courtney, Dublin City University

This blog outlines the main arguments from a recent article published in Irish Political Studies by the author. The article is available free to download until the end of August at

There is considerable contemporary interest in maximising the efficacy of Irish democracy. This has manifested itself in proposals incentivising parties to run more female candidates at general elections and a constitutional convention which included, as far as practicable, people from wider range of socio-demographic backgrounds than would otherwise be found in the Dáil and Seanad. Continue reading

Irish Polling Indicator: Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil gaining


The largest government party, Fine Gael, and the largest opposition party, Fianna Fáil, have both seen their electoral prospects improve over the last months, according to the Irish Polling Indicator. Fine Gael has recovered from a 22% low early December 2014 and now polls around 27%. Micheál Martin’s party also found the way up, increasing about 2% since late March. At 21% the party is finally improving on the consistently poor level of polling it had seen in the last year. Continue reading

Conference on Women in Leadership: North and South

This year’s annual conference of the UCD Institute for British-Irish Studies will be on the theme of women in leadership. It will take place on July 6 at the European Parliament’s office in Molesworth Street, Dublin. To register to attend (free registration) see here:


9:45am Registration

9:50am Welcome by Prof David Farrell (IBIS, UCD)

10:00am Frances Fitzgerald, TD, Minister for Justice and Equality

10:30am Tea/Coffee Break

10:45am Women’s Leadership in Political and Public Life
Chair: Dr Melanie Hoewer (IBIS, UCD)
Prof Yvonne Galligan (Queens University Belfast)
Senator Ivana Bacik (Trinity College Dublin)
Fiona Buckley (University College Cork)
Professor Joan Ballantine (University of Ulster)

12:05pm Civic Leaders and the Leadership Pipeline
Chair: Prof Elizabeth Meehan (QUB/UCD)
Niamh Gallagher (Women for Election)
Kate McCullough (N.I. Women’s European Platform)
Louise Glennon (National Women’s Council of Ireland)
Grainne McVeigh (Women’s Inspiration Network)

1:30pm Lunch

2:30pm Political Leadership
Chair: Bronagh Hinds (DemocraShe/IBIS)
Paula Bradley, MLA (Democratic Unionist Party)
Caitriona Ruane, MLA (Sinn Féin)
Senator Averil Power
Senator Kathyrn Reilly (Sinn Féin)
Other speaker(s) TBC

4.15pm Conference Close

Upcoming Event: The Marriage Referendum; Predicting the General Election


Everyone is welcome at this post referendum seminar organised by the Voters, Parties and Elections Specialist Group of the Political Studies Association of Ireland.The seminar will include presentations using data from the 2015 Referendum Study. Please email Jane or Theresa on to confirm your attendance for catering purposes. Further information on the referendum study is available at and the date, location and programme for the seminar is available below.

Conference Room, European Parliament Office, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2.

1 July 2015 at 5.30pm

Continue reading

Referendums aren’t for the faint hearted


The marriage referendum was an emotional roller-coaster. The reports of thousands taking boats and flights home to vote in the marriage referendum were heart-lifting. Ursula Halligan’s revelation in the last week of the marriage referendum campaign that she had hidden her sexuality from everyone, including at times herself was heart-breaking. She cited the referendum campaign as the reason she finally found the bravery to come out. We can only assume that she was relieved at the response and delighted at the result of the referendum. The referendum gave popular approval to a group that had felt isolated and afraid. Few who witnessed it will forget the happy, open and emotional atmosphere in Ireland on the weekend of the result.

But there’s a reason why Ireland is the first country in the world to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote. Continue reading