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

Charis Rice, I. Somerville

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    20 Citations (Scopus)
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    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.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)293-302
    Number of pages10
    JournalPublic Relations Review
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2013

    Bibliographical note

    NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Public Relations Review. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Public Relations Review, [39, 4, 2013] DOI: 10.1016/j.pubrev.2013.07.014

    © 2013, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/


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


    • Governance, Leadership and Trust
    • Peace and Conflict


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