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  • Author or Editor: Mary P. Murphy x
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Leading Irish academics and policy practitioners present a current and comprehensive study of policy analysis in Ireland.

Contributors examine policy analysis at different levels of government and governance including international, national and local and in the civil service, as well as non-government actors such as NGOs, interest groups and think tanks. They investigate the influential roles of the European Union, the public, science, quantitative evidence, the media and gender expertise in policy analysis.

Surveying the history and evolution of public policy analysis in Ireland, this authoritative text addresses the current state of the discipline, identifies post-crisis developments and considers future challenges for policy analysis.

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Policy Analysis in Ireland constitutes the Irish element in the ever-expanding International Library of Policy Analysis series, edited by Michael Howlett and Iris Geva-May, and published by Policy Press. The volume provides unique insights into the state of policy analysis in Ireland, a topic that has only recently received significant attention in this country. It draws together contributions from some of the leading policy analysis experts, both academics and practitioners, to provide a multidimensional set of perspectives on how policy analysis has developed to its current state, almost exactly a century after the country gained independence. Our aim is to ensure that this volume constitutes a window into the research frontier of Irish policy analysis.

The chapters examine the range of institutions and actors involved in policy analysis from across government, the private sector and broader civil society. The intention is not to critique specific policy outcomes or policy developments; rather, the book focuses on the organisational processes, institutions and locations that contribute to the construction and supply of policy ideas as well as methods of policy analysis and evaluation. The chapters examine the policy capabilities of the institutions wherein policy development and evaluation is conducted. Overlap between the chapters allows readers to reflect on how different approaches to policy analysis share similar key features, including an underlying informality related to a relatively pragmatic political culture. However, not all of the chapters agree with each other’s analysis.

In this introductory chapter, as editors, we offer an overview of concepts and set the scene with a brief summary of the Irish political and economic context.

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Over the past 30 years, civil society organisations (CSOs) have assumed an important role in Irish social, economic and environmental policy and have demonstrated resilience and versatility in their engagement with policy formation. Civil society has arguably led the social transformation of Ireland, as recent referenda have demonstrated, and the political elite has followed civil society’s lead in debating and demanding the type of social change that leads Ireland into the 21st century. The historical and contemporary role of civil society will be particularly important now, at a moment of flux and reflection, as the fault-lines exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and already rehearsed in the historic 2020 general election, are laid bare. A broader public policy story about civil society would affirm and celebrate the political vitality and leadership of civil society; however, this book is not about public policy per se, but is more narrowly focused on ‘policy analysis’ and hence focuses more on CSOs’ engagement with public policy institutions and process – a narrower story. This story is not, however, one-dimensional, but should be read in the context of the already proven ideational, campaigning and mobilising power of civil society [and social movements].

This chapter explores the types of capacity CSOs need for the different policy analysis functions, including research, advice, advocacy and communication. Two major themes emerge from the analysis. First, CSOs utilise a diverse range of models of change and their engagement with public policy does not evolve in a linear fashion but ebbs and flows.

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