Reform of Public Policy-Making in Ireland

Journal of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland (2013)

15 Pages Posted: 6 May 2013

Date Written: March 14, 2013


One of the more prominent issues to emerge from the recent economic crisis has been a concern about the method and quality of policy-making in Ireland. This concern has been specifically raised in relation to regulation of banking and other financial and fiscal affairs, but also more generally in relation to what is traditionally understood as being a defining characteristic of a civil service, i.e. the development of policy options for government. The importance of how public policy is created, framed and evaluated has been ‘rediscovered’ not just in Ireland, but across the OECD as governments seek to address crisis-inspired and other problems in new ways, and with less resources. This development has implications not just for the way in which public service organisations work, but also for the nature of politics itself. Policy, after all, creates politics as it involves resource allocations and decisions that will favour some interests over others. Recent events also pose challenging questions for the academic community as dominant theories concerning policy development have been found wanting, while also presenting opportunities for rethinking the role and capacity of contemporary state governing. Taking policy-making as a problem-solving activity, this paper sets Irish policy-making in some international and theoretical contexts, before looking at recent developments and considering future reform trajectories.

Keywords: Ireland, Policy-making, Governance, Public Administration, Evidence-based

JEL Classification: P00

Suggested Citation

MacCarthaigh, Muiris, Reform of Public Policy-Making in Ireland (March 14, 2013). Journal of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland (2013), Available at SSRN: or

Muiris MacCarthaigh (Contact Author)

Queen's University Belfast ( email )

25 University Square
Belfast, BT7 1NN

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