I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

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Myths About Migration

This year an unprecedented number of elections are taking place around the world. At or near the top of the agenda in many of them is immigration. Hardly any other issue has a more polarising impact. Fear, suspicion and ignorance fill the spaces around it. Xenophobic falsehoods are being widely disseminated. The arrival in Europe […]

Attack, attack, attack

During his tenure as president, Donald Trump used his office to grant executive clemency to more than 200 individuals charged or convicted of federal criminal offences. That may seem like a lot, but it is fewer than many of his predecessors: Bill Clinton, for example, pardoned more than twice that number. However, Trump’s use of […]

Literary / Capital: Dublin

At St Stephen’s Green in 2024, sandwich-snatching seagulls, mangled-footed pigeons, office workers and the growing numbers of Dublin’s tented population comingle on a weekday lunchtime. The twenty-seven-acre park was originally built in 1680 on the outskirts of a city that was, according to a 1635 city assembly, ‘groweing very populous’. The opening of Grafton Street […]

Beyond Defiance

A People Under Siege: The Unionists of Northern Ireland, from Partition to Brexit and Beyond, by Aaron Edwards, Merrion Press, 360 pp, €19.99, ISBN: 978-1785372995 The Ghost Limb: Alternative Protestants and the Spirit of 1798, by Claire Mitchell, Beyond the Pale Books, 256 pp, £15, ISBN: 978-1914318191 As the social and political ground shifts in […]

Rage for Profit

There was a drumbeat for RTÉ blood-letting coursing through Irish newspapers in the latter part of 2023, a heady staccato of accusations in bold headlines: bad management and weak governance at the national broadcaster, secret pay deals, scandalous spending, hidden slush funds … debacle, furore, fiasco, farce! This was probably the worst emergency to have […]

The Trump Enigma

Here we go again. For the third consecutive presidential election, US voters are likely to face a choice between a moderate career politician and an angry demagogue for whom lying and gaslighting are not just nasty political tactics but governing principles and reflexive personal traits. The result, the polls tell us, could go either way. […]

Hatred’s Underground Streams

How fast is the influence of the far right in Ireland growing? This question has been on the agenda of public discussion since the assertion of the Garda Commissioner in May 2023 that the far right has failed to grow in Ireland, bucking trends in other European countries. ‘Across Europe,’ he said, ‘we have seen […]

A Bodyguard of Lies

Stakeknife’s Dirty War: The Inside Story of Scappaticci, the IRA’s Nutting Squad, and the British Spooks who ran the War, by Richard O’Rawe, Merrion Press, 254 pp, €18.99, ISBN: 978-1785374470 The Padre: The True Story of the Irish Priest who armed the IRA with Gaddafi’s Money, by Jennifer O’Leary, Merrion Press, 256 pp, €18.99, ISBN: […]

Endgame in Paris

On February 13th 1936, the French socialist leader Léon Blum left the Palais Bourbon in Paris, the site of the lower house of parliament, to travel the relatively short distance to his home on the île Saint-Louis. He was driven by Georges Monnet, a friend and colleague, and they were accompanied by Monnet’s wife, Germaine. […]

There Will Be Blood

End Times: Elites, Counter-Elites and the Path of Political Disintegration, by Peter Turchin, Allen Lane, 240 pp, £25, ISBN: 978-0241553480 Peter Turchin is the founder of the discipline of ‘cliodynamics’ (Clio being the ancient Greek muse of history), a big-data-enabled approach to the study of history over the very long term. He is frank in […]