Strengthening the democratic contribution of NGOs and nonprofit organisations

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

Turning ourselves inside out – the rights and responsibilities of participation for CSOs

Paper presented to a Dochas Participation seminar on 16 April 2015. I am speaking to you today because I have just spent the last three years running a project called The Advocacy Initiative; a broad community and voluntary sector project aimed at examining and better understanding the advocacy of C&V organisations. The Initiative first emerged in 2008, so its history parallels the turmoil of the last six years. It was.. Read More

Time for a new social contract? Reflections from The Advocacy Initiative

This week I was delighted to be invited to give a short input at a seminar launching Joe Larragy’s new book on the community and voluntary pillar, Asymmetric Engagement. One of a number of contributors we were asked to consider the question ‘Time for a new Social Contract?’. My presentation drew on the findings of The Advocacy Initiative. The question of whether we need a new social contract sent me.. Read More

Just saying…

I felt the need to put the following statement from Irish Aid’s policy on civil society, beside a sample service level agreement which the HSE signs with those organisations it funds. “In the past, civil society organisations often established parallel service delivery functions and tried to replace the role of the state in service delivery. The limitations of this approach are now widely recognised and civil society organisations now tend to seek a complementary.. Read More

Giving a strong voice to all in society

This is the text of an editorial I published in The Examiner on 7 June 2013, with my Advocacy Initiative hat on. ON the surface it may seem natural that any government would be hesitant to fund criticism of its own policies. Is this not simply a case of an organisation in receipt of state funds biting the hand that feeds it? At first glance the argument against state funding.. Read More

Guest blog

Wrote a guest blog for Dochas on the arguments for global equality using material prepared for a class presentation. Feels a bit inadequate, its a summary really, and I am not sure that each of the arguments is really for an equality based response to global injustice. Though I am very interested in the comments, one so far, I wonder if there will be others?

Why we need dedicated funded advocacy organisations.

7istooyoung is a dynamic, energetic and apparently very effective campaign, focused on protecting lone parents from the worst excesses of the austerity Budget 2012. Despite the remarkably unpopular subject area (lets face it lone parents are not sick children or puppies), the three key organisations involved have not only generated public sympathy, but also political willingness, where none had existed.  No mean feat. And what has this got to do with.. Read More