Using the Dail Debates resource

This is a short post. Just to say this: all researchers interested in Ireland, whether students or lecturers, can gain a lot by exploring the ‘Dáil Debates’ resource available here. It’s one of the ‘electronic’ resources, available quickly and for free, that we are all becoming more accustomed to using over the last few years. Now, what sort of meaning we can take from it – what sort of use we can put it to – depends on what we’re doing. So a pinch of salt, perhaps, just in terms of how useful it is. But it’s worth mentioning what sort of ‘data’ or material is sitting there waiting to be found. So let me give a quick example.

I’m interested in the way places get caught up in the webs of interconnections we often refer to as ‘globalization’. Ireland is obviously just as caught up in this web as the next place. Perhaps more so. In terms of exploring this issue, though, might the Dáil Debates resource be of much use? Consider the demise of the textile industry here. Sure, there remains some activity. But just a few decades ago it was a massive source of employment. What changed was a variety of things: processes, policies, events, and so on. Much of this process of change can be seen as part of the globalization story. And a decent bit of the action is captured in Dáil debates. For instance, I searched for “South Korea AND textiles” here and was immediately taken to a long list of questions, answers, speeches, and arguments about the rise of Korean textiles imports in the 1970s and the effect this was having on Ireland’s textiles industry, especially in County Donegal. I will spare you the details of what I found and I won’t bore you any more, other than to say that similar searches can reveal interesting slices through earlier times, thereby producing snippets – again, to be used in whatever way you want – about what has happened here. I recommend keeping this resource in mind as you work on whatever project is stirring around in your head just now.

Alistair Fraser

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