Strengthening the democratic contribution of NGOs and nonprofit organisations

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


“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

Inside out and outside in

At a recent PhD roundtable discussion (29.09.2014) we discussed a couple of readings about the ethics of research. Can outsiders research vulnerable groups ethically? Where do we stand on our own positionality? I was struck by the complexity of the question and indeed identity. You are never fully an insider or an outsider, are you? Or at least I don’t think I have ever fully felt like an insider, but.. Read More

I don’t really understand the point of your argument…

Oh… but you don’t say that in the paper. Didn’t I? I had an interesting experience in my annual PhD roundtable presentation this evening.  It felt in some ways more like an attack than a discussion, and I am left trying to think that I learned from the experience. I presented my first case study, or at least the write up of my first case study on EAPN Ireland.  Its.. Read More

My first… conference paper!

Annual PSAI conference in Dublin on 20 October… well, it was not a big crowd, which maybe was just as well as I was a bit nervous going into it. The paper was on the democratic case for CSO advocacy, and went something like this: lots of problems with democracy, one of the answers is more participation, but different ideas of what participation is, CSOs have important role in participation in general.. Read More

Chapter 1. Draft 1.

I’ve sent it. Nervous. So before I get any feedback on it here’s what I think are the strengths and weaknesses of my first attempt at a theoretical chapter on participatory democracy. Strengths: Its a bona fide piece of writing, written down into paragraphs with a structure! I think it ends up connecting to my research question, in other words it has the beginnings of an ‘NGO test’ which might.. Read More