Dr Bernadette Connaughton (Democratic Performance Cluster, Department of Politics and Public Administration) organised a workshop on ministerial advisers held on 13th-14th October.

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Advisers known as political staff, SpAds, exempt staff, partisan appointees and a range of other labels are personally appointed by ministers to support them in their government work. They perform a variety of roles ranging from policy advice, political coordination and communications, to general assistance. Ministerial advisers are accountable to their minister and as ‘temporary civil servants’ they must resign when their minister leaves office. The initial research on ministerial advisers focussed on countries of the Westminster model and this has extended to encompass continental European and theoretical perspectives.

One of the objectives of the workshop was presenting the work in progress for the forthcoming book Ministers, Minders and Mandarins: An International Study of Relationships at the Executive Summit of Parliamentary Democracies edited by Professor Richard Shaw and Dr Chris Eichbaum. Public Administration academics at the workshop in Limerick represented the Australian National University, Aarhus University, Coventry University, Freie Universität Berlin, KU Leuven, University of Limerick, Université Catholique de Louvain and the University of Toronto. Vidyo enabled the contributions from colleagues in Leiden University, The Netherlands and Massey University, New Zealand – approximately 18,500 km and 13 hours apart!

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