Politics »

  • Truth in the News

    January 29, 2010 @ 1:27 pm | by Harry McGee

    I have always been fascinated by the old news reels like MovieTone news and the way they describe big events. For a modern student of semiotics, they must provide a field day. It’s not just the clipped upper class British accents, the staccato delivery denoting urgency, the obvious propaganda, or the way they crudely attempted to capture a folksy group psychology (oh look, the crowds wave with furious excitement and glee as soon as our victorious hero Mr Churchill disembarks from the naval warship).


  • Privacy in the Age of 24/7 News

    @ 11:02 am | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    Privacy is becoming more and  more of an issue in these days of 24/7 news and tabloid (or even “broadloid”) intrusiveness. We have had two controversies aired in recent days: the shielding of a witness in a murder trial and the travails of Government minster Martin Cullen. (more…)

  • The Bachelor’s Lament (Guest Blog Post)

    January 28, 2010 @ 1:33 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

     This is a Guest Post by my colleague on the political team here, Mary Minihan. It’s about Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar and his views on the tax treatment of swinging (or not-so-swinging) singletons. Now read on:- (more…)

  • Food for Thought

    @ 1:18 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    It’s not my custom to reproduce press releases from politicians – especially ones referring in complementary terms to another newspaper! – but there is a serious issue raised in this statement issued yesterday by Ruairi Quinn, the Labour Party’s Education Spokesman. Have a read of it:- (more…)

  • Sticking With It

    @ 10:46 am | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    You can’t help feeling that Blair and Bertie would have stayed in the North until a deal was done. True, Gordon Brown had important work to do in London, involving Afghanistan and Yemen and would probably have been criticised if he had remained at Hillsborough. (more…)

  • A Day That Will Live In Infamy

    January 27, 2010 @ 1:28 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    On this day 65 years ago, Russian soldiers arrived at Auschwitz concentration camp. Sadly it was too late for many who had perished in that particular hellhole. The date has been chosen to remember the Holocaust and its many lessons. (more…)

  • Thinking the Unthinkable

    January 26, 2010 @ 6:15 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    It would be a smart move for the DUP and UUP to present a united front to the Northern Ireland electorate. Will someone explain to me why the nationalist side cannot do the same? (more…)

  • Newsnight at 30

    @ 5:09 pm | by Harry McGee

    I’m not a technophobe like Charlie Bird (nor some other of his quirky characteristics – Harry McGee has not started speaking about himself in the third person yet as if he himself  were the subject of all his musings).


  • How much do we really know?

    January 25, 2010 @ 1:27 pm | by Harry McGee

    Brian Cowen’s interview with Gerald Barry on This Week yesterday was one of his better ones. (You can listen to the full interview here.)

    He warmed up towards the end and you could hear from his voice that he was speaking in real English and probably gesticulating his arms, and not just coming out the civil servant nonsense lingo.


  • The Senate, the Seanad and the Dáil

    @ 1:06 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    Sometimes things happen in politics that are almost inexplicable. For example, how could it happen that a US Senate seat which was held for so long by Edward Kennedy and, before that, his brother John, fall into the hands of the Republicans? (more…)

  • An unremarkable recovery and a remarkable outburst

    January 22, 2010 @ 11:49 am | by Harry McGee


    A little more on the poll. I don’t know if the word stoic can be transferred to a political body. But in a sense all the political parties have remained stoic in the face of all the dramatic events of the past four months. The swings up and down are all within the margin of error. (more…)

  • Irish Times poll

    @ 12:10 am | by Harry McGee

    Full details of the latest TNS mrbi opinion poll for The Irish Times will be published in the morning.

    The headline figures were released tonight.

    Everybody expected a Fianna Fail bounce.  Since September they have steered through NAMA and a more ascetic budget that Mac the Knife’s effort in 1987. There is also the sympathy factor following the disclosure of Brian Lenihan’s grave m (more…)

  • The Persil Brigade – Whiter than Whitewash

    January 20, 2010 @ 2:41 pm | by Harry McGee

    So much for a hybrid inquiry. What a cop out. No political accountability. No public hearings. No compromise to the Greens whatsoever despite their bleatings. The only thing that’s hybrid about this is that the Greens went looking from a compromise and Fianna Fail compromised by giving them a process with even greater degrees of opacity than a straightforward Commission of Investigation. (more…)

  • Hybrid equals what?

    January 19, 2010 @ 1:09 pm | by Harry McGee

    Dan Boyle said he hopes to see a hybrid inquiry emerging from this morning’s Cabinet meeting.

    Hybrid equals compromise equals fudge equals watered-down mish mash.

    Attorney General Paul Gallagher has supposedly given advice that a Commission of Investigation is the safest option. I would not be surprised if that is the case, given Gallagher’s very conservative approach to date (judges’ pay being the most signal example).

    (And while I’m at it, wouldn’t it be great if we knew the identity of the 30 beaks who have not ponied up any contribution to the pension levy).

    Brian Lenihan will outline the scheme in the Dail today.

    Will the opposition attack? Are Kilkenny the best hurling team in the country? Is Brian O’Driscoll the best centre in the world?

    Of course, of course, of course.

    And they will be right. A Commission of Investigation is a classic bit of rope-a-dope strategy, string it along as long as possible, with nothing emerging this side of the next General Election.

  • Banking Inquiry

    January 18, 2010 @ 10:57 am | by Harry McGee

    There will be a kerfuffle when the Dáil returns tomorrow over the form that the banking inquiry will take. Most of the Sunday broadsheets yesterday reported that the Government is veering towards a Commission of Inquiry model.

    That’s the concept brought to us by Michael McDowell. And, yes, it works. Very well too. But it’s not a utility player as such. It’s specialist. Worked well with Judge Murphy’s investigation of how the Dublin Archdioices responded to allegations of clerical sex abuse. It was also effective when inquiring into the death of a young boy whilst in custody.


  • Cowen and Brown in Downing Street

    January 14, 2010 @ 4:20 pm | by Harry McGee

    Both leaders have issued a statement in the past 45 minutes. It’s exactly as you would expect. It goes along the lines of many previous statements, with minor variations.

    The gist. The following are the important issues: devolution of policing and justice powers.

    Despite all the tragifarce of the past month, despite the serious fever that the Iris Virus has caused to the DUP, we believe it’s still achievable. What’s more we believe it’s desirable. The date on the Good Friday Agreement ticket has not yet expired.  Like parents, we have finally emptied the nest, but you always know we are there at the end of a telephone.


  • A note on the fine balance between criticism and a whinge

    January 12, 2010 @ 12:41 pm | by Harry McGee

    There was a lovely sentence in John Waters column last week (read the whole article here) that really caught my eye. He was extolling the virtues of Radio 4 by means of moaning about the consant moaning we hear on RTE (and in most of the newspapers).

    Here’s the snatch of column that I liked:


  • Peter Robinson – Is this a resignation for slow learners?

    January 11, 2010 @ 5:28 pm | by Harry McGee

    Peter Robinson has issued a statement today saying he is stepping back for six weeks to allow him deal with the personal and family matters arising from his wife Iris’s admission of infidelity with a teenager. (more…)

  • Iris Robinson

    January 8, 2010 @ 2:17 pm | by Harry McGee

    The investigation by BBC’s Spotlight and its reporter Darragh McIntrye into the Iris Robinson affair (political and personal) was extraordinary. (more…)

  • Best Political Song Ever?

    @ 12:16 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    This weather is making us all miserable and there is no end in sight. So by way of distraction I am putting forward a nomination for Best Political Song Ever. It is Marvin Gaye’s “Abraham, Martin and John”. 

    YouTube Preview Image (more…)

  • The Cold War

    January 7, 2010 @ 12:26 pm | by Harry McGee

    I saw scenes in Dublin last night that I have never witnessed before and am unlikely to witness for another generation. A combination of snow fall and then a hard freeze in the run-up to rush hour made the whole of the city (and most of the country) into an ice rink.  Journeys of one hour or less turned into six or seven hours as people from the suburbs got caught in mass gridlock as cars failed to negotiate even the tiniest of inclines.


  • Public and Private

    January 6, 2010 @ 7:51 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    We have had two startling insights into the private lives of senior politicians this week. First there were Brian Lenihan’s remarkably candid revelations about his impending battle with cancer of the pancreas. Now this evening we have had a searing statement from the North’s First Minister Peter Robinson about his marriage to Iris. (more…)

  • The Other side of the Water

    @ 1:43 pm | by Harry McGee

    Here’s a trick for a journalist like me who’s stuck for an intro. You can always find a simple and obvious comparison. For example, if you’re talking about Irish politics the easiest thing to do is have a look across the water and say, God, what’s happening over there is happening here too, or is just about to happen (expenses scandals; three wins on the trot for Bertie’s bestest friend in the world Tonee Blair).

    And to make it look like your really clever, you can use that most-frayed of quotes from Don Scottus: All comparisons are odious. To excuse the odious comparison that you have made.


  • Brian Lenihan interview

    January 4, 2010 @ 4:29 pm | by Harry McGee

    Anyone who listened to Brian Lenihan’s interview will be struck by his optimism and lack of self-pity in the face of such a grave and life-threatening condition. You can listen to Sean O’Rourke’s (adroitly handled) interview with him on RTE’s News at One here.


  • 2010 – Predictions for a political year

    @ 1:11 pm | by Harry McGee

    The narrative of Joe Lee’s amazing social history of Ireland brought us from 1912 to 1985. The last chapter, Perspectives, lambasted the policy, moral and economic failures that had beset us. Lee compared Ireland unfavourably to Denmark, a country with a similar population, that had prospered during the decades that Ireland had stagnated.


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