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Learning about how Ireland’s NGO’s inform the public about development

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Comhlámh’s Research and Policy Officer Siobán O’Brien Green chats about an interesting event she attended on exploring how Ireland’s NGO’s inform the public about development and the subsequent actions these NGO’s call for.


Staff from Comhlámh attended the “Finding Frames -Engaging the Irish public in the global poverty debate” event organised by the Dóchas Development Education Working Group (DEG) on Wednesday 9th April. New Irish research commissioned by Dóchas based on the UK ‘Finding Frames’ 2011 report and ‘Finding Danish Frames’ report from 2013 was presented at the event. The aim of this research was to explore how Ireland’s NGOs inform the public about development. Researcher Caroline Murphy outlined her content analysis process of examining resources from eight Irish NGOs. She then explained “Frames” to the audience: stating that her definition is the mental structures we use to manage our thought process and we utilise “Frames” to see and order things mentally. Caroline talked through her research findings; of particular interest was the portrayal of women in many materials she analysed. Women are often portrayed as needy and experiencing poverty as a result of internal issues in the country where they live or even as a result of personal deficiencies. Resources and data on volunteering programmes was also analysed which Caroline feels needs more exploration. However, plenty of “Progress Stories” also emerged through the resource analysis with the example of the World Best News highlighted.

Helen Shaw of Athena Media spoke about the issues raised in the research, the need for relationship building with donors and the public and to see them as partners in development. Helen encouraged attendees to see opportunities for NGOs to provide a critical voice and a route for activism through media stories and to really connect local issues (such as Irish water charges) with global issues (such as access to clean drinking water for all). Group discussion followed and a presentation on the Dóchas Code of Conduct on Images and Messages. The Dóchas DEG will continue to work on the issues raised though this research.




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