Strengthening the democratic contribution of NGOs and nonprofit organisations


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Our laws governing political donations don’t work for democracy

This is the text of a column I published in the on 3 January 2018. So now we know.  The Electoral Acts – the suite of laws which govern political donations – are failing to deepen transparency and accountability of those designated as ‘third parties’. Not because these ‘third parties’, or more specifically civil society organisations (CSOs) such as Amnesty International, are failing to comply, but because the legislation.. Read More

Lobbying: alive and kicking in 2017!

Regulation of lobbying is intended to shine a light on who is lobbying who and about what.  Lobbying is any communication which aims to influence decision-makers and the democratic decisions they make. From a democratic perspective understanding lobbying is important, because if we can better understand who our decision-makers are talking to and what information is available to them, we can better understand how decisions are made.  Lobbying has something.. Read More

Paperless PhD

Ok, maybe not quite paperless, but at least I tried. When I started my Phd in 2012 I knew that I would be working a lot from home (with a teeny tiny printer), but also that the reading pile would be significant. Consequently, for practical reasons, as well as environmental ones, I decided to avoid using paper as much as possible. My first challenge was my own preconception that I could.. Read More


Not sure why it has taken me a month to write this blog post.  But I did submit at the end of July. It has been a long and intense slog since Christmas; I kept up some contracting and volunteer work but the PhD really hoovered up every bit of time it could, including all those weekends.  It is certainly nice to move away from that intensity. Jake came with.. Read More


Its been a hectic few months.  I have been working towards putting a full draft of the thesis together and getting it off to my supervisors.  Which meant lots of editing and re-drafting, as well as writing my conclusion and introduction.  One thing that really helped is that I had to write an abstract (to send to prospective externs), which was a really tricky thing to write, but it meant.. Read More


Right, so this is different, I am trying to finish. Sorry. I can’t, I need to just do … Sorry. Nervous, anxious, stressed. Bored. How’s it going? Oh, fine… I think. There is a lot to do … Loads. Can I work, do you think? Coffee. Facebook. Tea. Yes, no. I don’t know. Comma…. splice. Quiet. Chaos. Thank you. Ok?


“I have a private plane. But I fly commercial when I go to environmental conferences” – Arnold Schwarzenegger I am just back from a voluntary sector conference in Nottingham last Thursday. I really debated whether to go or not. I was running a workshop in Dublin on Friday so it meant flying in and out of Nottingham in one day and all that comes with that (organising a babysitter, making.. Read More

Lighting a candle, not casting a shadow

Remarks I made at the launch of on 18 May 2016.   Mostly drawn on lessons from The Advocacy Initiative. I have been a member of the Benefacts stakeholder group over the past year or so. I joined the group not long after The Advocacy Initiative finished. The Advocacy Initiative was a civil society project (that I was lucky enough to run) that spent three years exploring the future.. Read More

The Indefinite Article

Looking up exhausted, I catch my husband’s eye and say with some force: “I never want to do that again”. No I am not talking about childbirth, but rather my first solo foray into the mysterious world of academic publishing. Just like that first pregnancy I wandered into it with a clear enough sense of the desirable outcome, but absolutely no idea what I was letting myself in for. What.. Read More

To lose one supervisor may be regarded as a misfortune…

… to lose two looks like carelessness So, I am up and running with supervisor no. 3, and actually I am pretty happy.  Just to remind us, I started with John Baker, but after a year and a half he retired.  He retired but in fairness was always very clear about staying involved in the project, which was and is great.  Sara Cantillon then took over, officially for a year and.. Read More