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.

Eoin O’Malley

The Old Order and the New

Fianna Fáil dominated the old three-party – or two-and-a half-party system - for so long due to political skill and its good fortune in usually being out of office when recession struck. But now the old system is changing in favour of a new one in which class and demographics count for more.

The Great Unloved

Many claim that Ahern was constrained by the desire of the PDs and liberal ministers in his Cabinet to cut back the state. This misses the point that the social partners, including the unions, were central to the call for tax cuts, and also ignores the fact that the size of the state grew enormously under Ahern. As neoliberals go, the PDs and McCreevy were either not very good at it or less powerful than is sometimes thought.

They Took The Blows

Ahern’s patience, likeability and almost congenital desire to avoid confrontation helped him. He effectively handed over control of domestic policy to Charlie McCreevy and the PDs. His failure to get agreement on his most favoured policy, the building of a national stadium, showed his lack of power in this area. One policy he was interested in was social partnership, and he effectively used the ever-rising exchequer revenues to buy the compliance of a union movement that was happy to be bought off.