Book review – Leahy, The Price of Power (2013)

NNiamh Richardsoniamh Richardson is a UCD Politics Joint Major. The best book reviews written as part of the course requirements for POL30080 Irish Politics and Policy are posted here to let UCD students contribute to critical reflection on key issues in Irish political and social life.

Leahy, Pat (2013) The Price of Power: Inside Ireland’s Crisis Coalition, Dublin, Penguin.

As we reached a political saturation point in Spring 2016 with blanket coverage of the election campaign, and with the government so keen to remind the electorate of the crisis context in which they took power five years ago, it was an interesting time to consider their early period in office, chronicled by Pat Leahy in The Price of Power. This book charts the disastrous dying days of the Fianna Fáil-Green administration, the formation of the Fine Gael-Labour coalition amidst a ‘national interest’ discourse, and its early efforts to reduce the costs of Ireland’s bailout deal. It concludes with the political fallout from the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill and the Meath East by-election. Continue reading

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Book review – Healy et al, Ireland Says Yes (2015)

Oliver ClarkeOliver Clarke is a UCD Politics and History Joint Major. The best book reviews written as part of the course requirements for POL30080 Irish Politics and Policy are posted here to let UCD students contribute to critical reflection on key issues in Irish political and social life.

Healy, Gráinne, Sheehan, Brian & Whelan, Noel (2015) Ireland Says Yes: The Inside Story of How the Vote for Marriage Equality Was Won, Dublin, Irish Academic Press/ Merrion Press.

The Marriage Equality Referendum which took place on 22nd May 2015 was a seminal moment in Irish politics. The referendum on whether to allow two people regardless of their sex to be married was passed by a convincing margin of 62 per cent to 38 per cent. This was a victory for all gay people in the country and in turn inspired many other Western countries to seek marriage equality in their nations. Ireland was the first country in the world to pass marriage equality legislation by popular vote, which made international headlines. Many people worked hard to lobby and seek change in homosexual couples’ marital status over the decades, from politicians to awareness groups, and this victory was their reward. Indeed, the scenes at Dublin Castle post-referendum illustrate the joy, relief, and sheer euphoria experienced by all those who sought marriage equality. The outcome also signified something wider for many people, which is that homosexuals need no longer feel they had to suppress who they really were; many of those who had been afraid of coming out as gay to family and friends experienced a newfound confidence. Ireland Says Yes: The Inside Story of How the Vote for Marriage Equality Was Won is written by the three leaders of the Yes Equality campaign, Gráinne Healy, Brian Sheehan, and Noel Whelan, and it chronicles the inside story of the referendum campaign. This book is an excellent account of the work that went into running the Yes Equality campaign, from the leadership of the campaign right down to the local canvassers. Continue reading

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Book review – Burke, Irish Apartheid (2009)

Triona MackenTriona Macken is a UCD Politics Joint Major. The best book reviews written as part of the course requirements for POL30080 Irish Politics and Policy are posted here to let UCD students contribute to critical reflection on key issues in Irish political and social life.

Burke, Sara (2009) Irish Apartheid: Healthcare Inequality in Ireland, Dublin, New Island.

In this book Sara Burke, a journalist in health matters, provides both a lay person’s and an academic’s guide to understanding the complexities of the Irish health system. Throughout the book she is critical of how successive ministers failed to deliver a comprehensive public health service. She is particularly critical of the health strategies of governments from 2001 to 2007 which escalated inequalities. Her book, written in 2009 at the onset of the Great Recession, gives an authoritative perspective on health policies during the years of boom. This gives us a good context in which to understand what has happened since the crisis. Continue reading

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SPIRe Starts Podcast Series


UCD’s School of Politics and International Relations (SPIRe) is excited to be bringing to its students and the wider academic community its own Podcast series, aimed at providing an insight into the workings of the oldest and largest school of its kind in the Republic of Ireland.

The Podcast, named after SPIRe’s Blog, is presented by Dr. Alex Dukalskis and features monthly interviews with School staff as well as students and visiting scholars.


The first episode is available now on Soundcloud, with guest Dr. Iseult Honohan.

Iseult Honohan

Iseult Honohan has been a lecturer and researcher in Normative Political Theory at SPIRe for over 25 years. On the eve of her retirement from teaching, Iseult discusses both her research interests and memorable moments from her career in UCD.

The next Podcast episode will be up in the month of February.




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SPIRe Seminars Spring 2016

SPIRe is delighted to announce its Spring series of Seminars, featuring a wide variety of speakers and topics.  Kicking off the series on Thursday 28th January will be Prof. Don Abelson from the University of Western Ontario, who will be presenting on “The relationship between think tanks and US presidential candidates”. This Seminar will take place at 3pm in G316, Newman Building.

UCD Seminars Spring 2016
UCD Seminars Spring 2016
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Bringing Science into the European Parliament

Paul Walsh_2There is an increasing awareness that the research undertaken in Universities does not easily find its way into policy making.  One reason given is that Science is targeting Web of Science publications and citations run by private publishing houses.  Science is not written or even meant for policy makers. Yet, funders and Universities are under increasing pressure to show that their research has an impact on the economy, society and the environment in and outside of the EU.  Academics note that Parliamentarians seem to be more interested in taking advice from consultants and political advisors on issues of the day, dictated by short term political cycles, rather than addressing medium and long term challenges that people and planet are facing. Bureaucratic sides of governments seem to have lost interest in academic inputs in policy agenda setting and implementation but this varies by country.

In a world hit by global financial crisis, disease, conflict over natural resources, migration and climate change, medium to long term planning needs to be more centre stage.  Science, Technology and Innovation are the instruments of the much needed transformative change.  The recent UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda is very clear that we need a Science Policy Interface to be central to the implementation and monitoring and review of the SD Agenda. The High Level Political Forum will bring UN Major Groups and Political Leaders together to guide the Agenda and it will need Science to guide the process.

With a similar vision in mind the ‘MEP-Scientist Pairing Scheme’ organised by the Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel of the European Parliament (EP) want dialogues to take place directly between Scientists and the MEPs.

We are in the fourth round of STOA’s ‘MEP-Scientist Pairing Scheme’, which aims to promote a culture of science-based policy-making in the European Parliament by helping create lasting links between scientists and MEPs. The project raises awareness of politically relevant, cutting-edge scientific issues by creating a structured dialogue between scientists and policy-makers in the European Parliament.

There is an annual call for Scientists to be considered for the register.  The MEPs then select a Scientist. During 2016 thirty three pairs of MEPs and Scientists have been established. The list is published on the STOA website

Professor Patrick Paul Walsh, University College Dublin, Political Science,   in the area of the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Interface, with a special focus on the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, has been paired with Julie Girling  (European Conservatives and Reformists Group, UK),

During the structured program the paired scientists will have an opportunity of getting acquainted with the workings of the European Parliament’s committees and research services. They will shadow their MEP counterparts in their daily activities.  The scientists will to present their research activities to their MEP counterparts and plan an outgoing Science Policy dialogue.

This structured MEP-Scientist Pairing is likely to create a formal space in the European Parliament where Science Policy Interfaces can to make important contributions to European Policy Making.

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Understanding the Eurozone Crisis: Seminar Videos

All talks given during the UCD ‘Understanding the Eurozone Crisis’ Seminar Series are now accessible online:

Seminar EU

The series has been co-hosted by UCD’s Dublin European Institute, College of Social Sciences & Law, College of Business, and Industrial Relations & Human Resources Group.

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3 x Lecturer in the School of Politics & International Relations (Permanent), School of Politics and International Relations (SPIRe)

ucd logoApplications are invited for a permanent appointment(s) as Lecturer in the UCD School of Politics and International Relations. Appointments will be offered across any subfields or methodological approaches in politics or international relations.

The person(s) appointed will be expected to contribute significantly to research and teaching in their own area of specialisation within politics or international relations. The ability to teach in additional sub-fields is desirable. The principal motivation for these posts is to expand and deepen the School’s research profile, to strengthen undergraduate teaching, to contribute to further expansion in graduate education (taught and research), to build additional international research networks and to contribute to a vibrant, collegial and ambitious group of scholars.

The successful candidate(s) will be offered a permanent academic post and be eligible for Tenure. Note: Lecturers in UCD must have successfully completed a (1 year) probation and (up to 3 years) induction period to be eligible to apply for the award of tenure.

Note: It is envisaged interviews will take place in week commencing Monday 14th December 2015. The appointed Lecturer(s) will commence in post on 1 September 2016; but earlier start dates will be considered. Furthermore: Applicants should NOT include any writing samples when submitting their application.

2013 Lecturer (above the bar)_2010 Salary Scale: €50,807 – €76,936 per annum.
Appointment will be made on scale and in accordance with the Department of Finance guidelines

Closing date: 17:00hrs (GMT) on Monday 16th November 2015

Applications must be submitted by the closing date and time specified. Any applications which are still in progress at the closing time of 17:00hrs on the specified closing date will be cancelled automatically by the system. UCD do not accept late applications. NO writing samples should be submitted with applications.

Apply here:

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Book just published: Politics and Governance in the Middle East

Dr. Vincent Durac portraitDr. Vincent Durac, of SPIRe has just published a new book entitled Politics and Governance in the Middle East (co-authored with Francesco Cavatorta of Laval University). Below is a description of the book, which can be purchased here.

The wave of protests and civil unrest that began in 2011 across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) was a watershed moment in the politics of the region. Known as the ‘Arab Awakening’, or ‘Arab Spring’, its impact on the region and on wider international affairs has changed perceptions of the Middle East and resulted in similar revolts elsewhere.

In this wide-ranging and accessible text, the authors examine the key aspects of governance in the MENA, and locate the recent uprisings in their broader historical, social and political context. Taking a thematic approach that engages with core theory as well as the authors’ own extensive research, the text assesses various issues, including the impact of oil on both domestic politics and international relations, the vexed relationship between religion and politics, the development of ‘security states’, and the role of women in society.

The analysis moves beyond the characterization of the Middle East as either in the midst of a democratic transition or as a persistently authoritarian region to show how both perspectives should work together to enhance our understanding. Expertly
navigating from the everyday politics of life in the Middle East to the influence and responses of global actors with vested interests, this text provides a nuanced and comprehensive account of this diverse region.

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Social Movements, Protest Movements and Cross-Ideological Coalitions: the Arab Uprisings Reappraised

Dr. Vincent Durac portraitNew research on social movement from SPIRe just published in a special issue of Democratization (Vol. 22, Issue 2, 2015) from SPIRe’s Dr. Vincent Durac.

Abstract: This article explores the utility of social movement theory, reviewing conceptual developments and its application to Middle East cases before examining its relevance to the Arab uprisings. The initial youth-led new social movements were non-ideological, leaderless, and lacking in clear organizational structures. As the protest movements spread, they grew to encompass a diverse array of other movements and actors: The breadth and diversity of these coalitions made the successful achievement of their core demands for regime change possible. However, the persistence of ideological cleavages within them made agreement on the post-regime change political order near impossible.

The full paper can be found here.

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