While it is part and parcel of a ritual reaffirmation of identity, republicanism in Ireland has no practical significance in everyday life: it does nothing to alleviate burning problems in areas such as housing, health, transport or pollution. The concept once had other, more fruitful, meanings.
On whether strategic thinking in peace negotiations should outweigh moral considerations, Bertie Ahern’s mind was clear. Isolating the extremes and supporting the moderates would not solve the problem: the challenge was to make peace with your enemies, not your friends.
Scandals which cause huge political ripples and even topple governments can result from both political and civil-service incompetence. A special adviser to Arlene Foster said that during his entire time in Stormont he never once saw minutes of a meeting involving his minister.
The women interned in mother-and-baby homes not only did forced penance for other people’s sins. They also quite literally washed the laundry of the state, including that of institutions like hospitals, the National Library, Áras an Uachtaráin and the ESB.
The late Peter Sutherland was ‘among the most influential powerbrokers of the last thirty years or so’. Unfortunately, his biographer’s inability to seriously grapple with his exercise of that power causes the reader to veer between exasperation and, too often, frustrated laughter.
A mildly salacious exchange in 1966 between Gay Byrne and a ‘Late Late’ guest, and the controversy which followed, were often later cited as a classic example of the binary clash between the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ Ireland. But was the controversy largely a media-fuelled affair?
The temptation to attribute Ireland’s economic collapse after 2008 to greater moral or intellectual failings on the part of bankers, politicians and regulators than those exhibited by their counterparts elsewhere is to succumb to a vein of Irish exceptionalism that is not particularly helpful.
Political scientist Brendan O’Leary has written about Northern Ireland for thirty-five years, keeping abreast of every development and always pushing the politics of accommodation. His new three-volume treatise is a synthesis of everything he knows, whether from his own research or that of others.
The supply of real estate is inherently fixed. Thus rising demand too often manifests in price inflation (increased price of housing) rather than increased supply. As a result, housing markets are plagued by problems of affordability, inadequate levels of supply and boom/bust cycles.