Democracies are faced increasingly with the challenge of engaging the public on the assumption that such activity will lead to greater understanding of, and enhanced trust in, political institutions. This is a particular difficulty for an institution such as the Northern Ireland Assembly (NIA), established against the backdrop of a historically divided society with high levels of political conflict and which has itself been suspended on several occasions. This article reports the findings from the NIA's first survey of public engagement, conducted as part of the Assembly's broader engagement strategy. It provides a baseline against which future levels of engagement can be judged. Moreover, it highlights a range of challenges that face both the NIA and its Members of the Legislative Assembly if the Assembly is to engage successfully with the public in the aftermath of the 2011 elections.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science