Theory vs Reality: Partisanship and Northern Ireland's Public Accounts Committee 2011-2016

Clare A. G. Rice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Public accounts committees (PACs) are tasked with scrutinising executive use of public money, undertaking inquiries with the support of the legislative auditor. Through several means, an expectation is placed on members to be politically neutral in undertaking committee work. However, in the context of Northern Ireland, where consociationalism entrenches binary ethno-national identities throughout the political institutions, it would be expected that party-political interests would prevail and fracture the committee. This paper analyses Northern Ireland's PAC from three perspectives alongside qualitative data from interviews with committee members: theory, party-partisanship and changes in the committee's working relationship with the legislative auditor. It is argued that over the 2011–2016 mandate, this PAC coalesced and functioned well as a unit despite expectation to the contrary, and that the changing dynamics of its working relationship with the Northern Ireland Audit Office over this time are testament to its development in this way.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-228
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Legislative Studies
Issue number2
Early online date14 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Public Accounts Committee
  • Northern Ireland
  • United Kingdom
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Scrutiny
  • Oversight
  • Parliament
  • Consociationalism
  • Devolution
  • Partisanship
  • Power Sharing


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