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The availability of the full text of Irish parliamentary questions oﬀers opportunities for using machine learning techniques to examine the currently much discussed role of elected representatives (TDs) in the Irish parliamentary system. Bluntly, are TDs mainly national legislators or “constituency messenger boys”? This paper presents an initial investigation into the use of automated text classiﬁcation techniques to categorise parliamentary questions from 1922 up to 2008 as national or local. The approach uses a bag of words representation, standard feature reduction methods and an SVM classiﬁer. Initial results show there is very little evidence in the corpus of parliamentary questions in Dail Eireann to support the view that the role of the TD is determined by mainly clientelist/parochial imperatives.
Delany, S., Sinnott, R. & O’Reilly, N. (2010) The Extent of Clientelism in Irish Politics: Evidence from Classifying Dáil Questions on a Local-National Dimension. AICS: Proceedings of 21st Irish Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science, NUI Galway, 30 August - 1st September.