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Title: Government communication in the devolved, power-sharing context of Northern Ireland
Author: Rice , Charis
ISNI:       0000 0004 5361 7143
Awarding Body: University of Ulster
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2014
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This research analyses government communication within Northern Ireland. The central focus of the research is the roles and relationships of government communicators and journalists in the power-sharing post-conflict context of Northern Ireland, and how they can be located within broader debates about government communication in democratic societies. Research on government communication in complex institutional systems from a public relations perspective is limited, as is research on this topic in Northern Ireland. In-depth elite interviews were carried out with two kinds of government communicators, civil servant Government Information Officers (GIOs) and politically appointed Ministerial Special Advisers (SpAds), as well as political journalists working in Northern Ireland. This method enabled a comprehensive analysis of the government communication process. As with other political contexts, power and trust dynamics between these individuals are important in explicating how information is disseminated from government, and how it is managed between government and the media. The principal findings of this research are that the post-conflict environment, the consociational structure of government, and the antagonistic political culture in Northern Ireland, all impact on the flow of information from these professional groups into the public sphere. As a result, Northern Ireland's public sphere is characterised not just by the usual contest between government communicators and journalists over political stories, but also by competition across and within departments. Government-media interactions are also shaped by the legacy of conflict. These issues impact detrimentally on GIOs' abilities to communicate a cohesive and transparent government message to the public. This thesis contributes to our knowledge of government communication in contemporary societies by demonstrating the importance of relationships between communication elites in this process. It also illuminates the particular issues which a consociational system and post-conflict context produce for government communication, thereby addressing the wider democratic implications of government communication for a post-conflict society.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available