Life in Post-Communist Eastern Europe After EU Membership
11 March 2012
From Partition to Brexit
4 March 2018

Political Communication in the Republic of Ireland

Political Communication in the Republic of Ireland (Liverpool University Press, 2014)

This book presents an overview of political communication in the Republic of Ireland from a multiplicity of perspectives and sources. It brings together academics and practitioners to examine the development and current shape of political communication in modern Ireland. It also examines what the future holds for political communication in an increasingly gatekeeper-free media landscape.

The field of political communication, where journalists, public relations professionals and politicians intersect and interact, has always been a highly contested one fuelled by suspicion, mutual dependence and fraught relationships.

While politicians need the media they remain highly suspicious of journalists. While journalists remain wary of politicians, they need access to them for information. For most of the time, what emerges is a relatively stable relationship of mutual dependence with the boundaries policed by public relation professions.

However, every so often, in times of political crisis or upheaval, this relationship gives way to a near free-for-all. Politicians, spokespersons and sometimes even journalists, become fair game in the battle for public accountability and support. The determination of public relations professions to avoid this and keep the relationship based on mutual dependence has become a central component of modern statecraft and systems of governance. The need to keep politicians and the media ‘on message’ and use the media to inform, shape and manage public discourse has become central to the workings of government, opposition and interest groups.

On the other hand, the packaging of politics has potentially troublesome implications for the democratic process. In the era of the instant news cycle, new technologies and constant opinion polling, just where does information end and misinformation begin? With millions being spent annually on advisors and ‘spin-doctors’, just where does media access end and media manipulation begin?

Political Communication in the Republic of Ireland at Liverpool University Press website

Book launch as reported in the Irish Times, the picture includes the Taoiseach with the editors, Donnacha Ó Beacháin (left) and Mark O’Brien (right)

Unofficial book launch video (15 November 2014)


“The title Political Communication in the Republic of Ireland reflects this book’s academic origins, but it reads like an insider’s guide to life in Leinster House and editors’ offices. This is the first time that Irishstyle political communication – or spin, or propaganda: call it what you will – has got an impartial examination. Its editors, Mark O’Brien and Donnacha Ó Beacháin, of Dublin City University, have drawn together contributors from across the political and communications disciplines to cast their authoritative eyes over Irish political discourse … What makes this book a trove is its lack of partisan politics. The detached, measured view offered by the assembled academics rings true to anyone involved or interested in political communication. This is a good insight into politics for genuine hurlers on the ditch and for devotees of the black art”.
Brian Hayes MEP in The Irish Times, 27 February 2015

Political Communication in the Republic of Ireland is an intriguing work that, at minimum, ought to be read by anyone interested in the democratic political process and especially by those who have a research or other interest in Ireland”.
Professor Anthony Moretti, Robert Morris University,  Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 92/1 (March 2015) pp. 268-269.

“… the themes have been well chosen and thoughtfully addressed. Recommended reading for the aspirant mediaworker, the political scientist or the sociologist of communications”.
 Conor Brady in The Sunday Times, 29 March 2015

“O’Brien and Ó Beacháin are to be congratulated not simply on being the first to cast the spotlight on this area of Irish public life, but in producing a comprehensive, balanced and nuanced account of political communication in Ireland.”
Dr Paddy Hoey, Edge Hill University, UK, Irish Political Studies, October 2015.

“This excellent book has been meticulously edited by Donnacha Ó Beacháin and Mark O’Brien. The practice of political communications can sometimes be characterised by reaction over reflection. The contributors to this book display the kind of thoughtfulness and insight that can be lacking in a world where perhaps there has been too much ‘us and them’ – politicians on one hand, media on the other. I have no doubt it will be a fascinating and invaluable work for students of the subject.”
An Taoiseach [Prime Minister] Enda Kenny in official press release prior to launching the book.

Donnacha Ó Beacháin and Mark O’Brien are two of Ireland’s most productive young academics. In an era of 24/7 news cycles, constant opinion polling and new technologies, political communications will continue to evolve. Today’s spin-doctors are faced with the serious problem posed by fake news on social media and the crucial debate about where does information end and misinformation begin. For anyone who wants to inform themselves about the terrain from which Irish political communications has emerged and where this may lead, this very enjoyable book is required reading.
Irish Literary Supplement

Chapter by Donnacha Ó Beacháin Elections and Political Communication

The book was published in hardback in July 2014. A paperback edition was published two months later. All editions, including an electronic version for Kindle can be purchased from Liverpool University Press at or on Amazon