Power sharing and political public relations: Government-press relationships in Northern Ireland's developing democratic institutions

Charis Rice, Ian Somerville

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    48 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Northern Ireland's democratic governance is consociational (i.e. power-sharing is mandatory) and therefore substantially different from the majoritarian electoral system which characterizes most Western democratic societies. Consociationalism has been advocated as a form of democracy which can reconcile post-conflict societies fragmented along ethnic, religious or linguistic lines. Political public relations within mandatory coalitions have received little attention from scholars to date. Drawing on data from elite interviews with Government Information Officers (GIOs), Ministerial Special Advisers (SpAds) and journalists in Northern Ireland, this paper analyses their perspectives on political public relations in Northern Ireland's evolving democratic institutions. Our findings suggest Northern Ireland's public sphere is characterized not just by the usual contest between government communicators and journalists over political stories, but also by competition across government departments and within departments between GIOs and SpAds. Our research investigates the role of public relations in Northern Ireland's developing democratic institutions and more generally identifies important issues surrounding government communication in post-conflict power-sharing democracies.
    LanguageEnglish
    JournalPublic Relations Review
    Volume39
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2013

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    journalist
    democracy
    communicator
    electoral system
    society
    coalition
    elite
    governance
    linguistics
    communication
    interview

    Keywords

    • Political public relations
    • Government-press relationships
    • Power-sharing
    • Northern Ireland

    Cite this

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    title = "Power sharing and political public relations: Government-press relationships in Northern Ireland's developing democratic institutions",
    abstract = "Northern Ireland's democratic governance is consociational (i.e. power-sharing is mandatory) and therefore substantially different from the majoritarian electoral system which characterizes most Western democratic societies. Consociationalism has been advocated as a form of democracy which can reconcile post-conflict societies fragmented along ethnic, religious or linguistic lines. Political public relations within mandatory coalitions have received little attention from scholars to date. Drawing on data from elite interviews with Government Information Officers (GIOs), Ministerial Special Advisers (SpAds) and journalists in Northern Ireland, this paper analyses their perspectives on political public relations in Northern Ireland's evolving democratic institutions. Our findings suggest Northern Ireland's public sphere is characterized not just by the usual contest between government communicators and journalists over political stories, but also by competition across government departments and within departments between GIOs and SpAds. Our research investigates the role of public relations in Northern Ireland's developing democratic institutions and more generally identifies important issues surrounding government communication in post-conflict power-sharing democracies.",
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    Power sharing and political public relations: Government-press relationships in Northern Ireland's developing democratic institutions. / Rice, Charis; Somerville, Ian.

    In: Public Relations Review, Vol. 39, 20.08.2013.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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