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Irish Times: I went from criticising how democracy was practised to having to defend it as a concept

When I started researching democracy almost 15 years ago while writing my PhD at Trinity, many people expressed scepticism about my subject matter.

It was, after all, 2006 and the Celtic Tiger was still climbing to its final, precipitous heights. Flocks of construction cranes drifted along the Dublin skyline, and many people enjoyed a life with fewer social and economic worries than previous generations would have thought possible.

It was perhaps this surfeit of optimism that often led to a knee-jerk moment of rejection whenever I had to tell people what I was doing with my life. Why nitpick democracy? they would ask. And why here? Were we in the West not the ultimate civilisation, the end of history? What could possibly go wrong? As one department head would tell me: “Your work is completely irrelevant”.

That, as it turned out, was tempting fate.

Read the full article at the Irish Times here.


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