British prime minister Theresa May gives her landmark Brexit speech in Florence, Italy. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Theresa May and Brexiteers both insist on a damaging binary view of the UK and Europe

‘If the market couldn’t solve a housing crisis when we were building at a rate scarcely ever matched in any country, it is never going to do so.’ Photograph: Frank Miller

Political solution needed as building industry cannot solve permanent emergency

Newstalk: George Hook has been working at a station where the line between news and opinion has blurred

Fintan O’Toole: Who’d want to be associated with his views on rape? Not advertisers

Newstalk presenter George Hook. File photograph: ©INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan

George Hook’s rape comments are the result of the station’s flagrantly sexist strategy

Charles Haughey:  surely he and Mara did not think Keane was going to hotfoot it down to Temple Bar to open an experimental black box theatre space

Martin Keane’s tales of getting the inside track show gap between rhetoric and reality

The Border problem can be dealt with only if the UK stays in the customs union and, preferably, also the single market. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Leo Varadkar must show steel and support Jeremy Corbyn over Theresa May

We might say that the most distinctive thing about contemporary Irish identity is precisely its radical openness

Fintan O'Toole: A reimagined republic should define the new Irish identity

Capt Peter Kelleher reading the Proclamation at the GPO, Dublin, last year. Photograph: Maxwells

We have moved beyond the shame and glory of the past, but have yet to invent our future nation

Aiden Harris Igiehon. The Irish teenager was born and raised in Clondalkin, Dublin, and has a basketball scholarship at the Lawrence Woodmere Academy in New York. Photograph: Tom Honan

Ireland’s old markers of land, nationality and religion fail to reflect changes in society

‘All the evidence is that if one set of stories no longer makes sense, people do not simply become realists. They become prey to any old story at all.’

Globalisation, migration and Catholicism’s decline have undermined stories of ourselves

Cars cross the controless border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, in Donegal, Ireland on June 25, 2016. PAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images

The Brexit position paper feels more like an early move in the blame game than a credible plan. But this is not a game, it’s deadl(...)

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams: espousing a crude, tribal majoritarianism on the question of Irish unity. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Brexit has made Irish unity more likely, but we need to reunify people first

Ryan Tubridy’s books about John F Kennedy’s visit to Ireland was accepted for the artists’ exemption. Tubridy makes €495,000 a year from RTÉ

Fintan O’Toole: The artists’ tax exemption scheme has become an embarrasment

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar ahead of a speech in Belfast on August 4th, 2017. Photograph: Getty

British politicians’ time-wasting and ignorance has shifted the balance of power

Kevin Myers. He told Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ: “Men are driven by urges women don’t have.” Photograph: RTÉ Radio One/PA Wire

Cod-Darwinism touted by those who dismiss gender equality does not stack up

Kevin Myers: The keynotes of his column on Sunday were on familiar themes. Photograph: Eric Luke

If he had stuck with straight misogyny, he would have been fine

Fight poverty and homelessness? Let us debate how to spend €178 million cost of refunding  the water charges. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Instead of being the last act in a long-running farce that made a mockery of our democracy, the money we paid should be used for a(...)

Modular homes being built for social housing in Ballymun, Dublin, in 2016. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Governing policies mean that homeless families are now too poor for social housing

Michael Hayes on BBC Northern Ireland where he declared himself an active participant in the Birmingham massacre of November 21st, 1974.

Brazen lie underpins republican evasions about 1974 bombings that killed 21

The deadline for the Rugby World Cup was treated as absolute. The deadline for ending an abuse of the rights of our children remains a moveable feast. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Government meets rugby event deadline but misses one on homeless children

“If there had been referendums in France or Italy last year, when the wave of anti-establishment anger was at its height, there is every possibility that the EU could now be facing an existential crisis of much greater import than Brexit itself.” Illustration: Getty Images

If response to Brexit is just ‘good riddance’, the EU may sleepwalk into its own demise. Our ‘Europe’s Future’ series concludes

Then tanáiste Joan Burton is confronted by anti-water charge demonstrators in Jobstown in 2014. Photograph:  Crispin Rodwell

System punishes working class misdeeds but turns blind eye to middle-class crime

  Donald Trump: Naomi Klein describes the US leader as ‘a pastiche of pretty much all the worst trends of the past half century’. Photograph:  Joe Raedle/Getty Images

No Is Not Enough lays out the case against Donald Trump in an accessible but unoriginal way

The new Terry Wogan sculpture, in Limerick: What do you do when there’s no ideology to be expressed, no larger national or imperial narrative to be given a sculptural form? Photograph: Alan Place

The Terry Wogan statue in Limerick is a case of a good artist producing bad art

 Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore: June 29th, 2012, was the moment of what both the then taoiseach and tánaiste called the “game-changer”. Photograph: Eric Luke

Lessons from bailout show State cannot take goodwill of our European allies for granted

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan arrives at Leinster House on Tuesday for her appearance before the Public Accounts Committee. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Obfuscating Garda Commissioner has taken unaccountablity to a new level in Ireland

Minute’s silence for Grenfell Tower: right-wing sneering leads to the blackened cage of “the outrageous crematorium on the skyline” of west London. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Decades of deriding public service has led the UK and US into political anarchy

Donald Trump: the golf-carting embodiment of transgression. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty

Fintan O’Toole: Have shock tactics had their day?

DUP politicians Jeffrey Donaldson, Nigel Dodds and Emma Pengelly emerge from 10 Downing Street on Thursday after after holding talks with Theresa May. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

Conservative party thinks of England as it clasps Democratic Unionists to its bosom

DUP leader Arlene Foster and British prime minister Theresa May: “The biggest problem with the DUP’s insistence that Northern Ireland must not have special status is that it already does.” Photograph: Charles McQuillan/PA Wire

Arlene Foster’s DUP will tie British government into believing three impossible things

Prof  Philip Pettit is regarded as the leading figure in “neo-republican”  thought. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Gracious Irish political theorist says ‘it’s the message that counts, not the messenger’

Who’s in charge after the UK general election?: it’s not Theresa May, and it’s not anybody else either. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

Fintan O’Toole: In all of this panic there has been a deep undermining of the idea of political authority

Lisa Dwan in ‘No’s Knife’ by Samuel Beckett at the Abbey Theatre:  She has a unique ability to draw us into the mesmeric rhythms and alluring forms of Beckett’s texts even while keeping us at the distance their enigmatic poetry demands.

Beckett’s ‘Textes Pour Rien’ convey a sense of being cut adrift from life, from existence itself. Actor Lisa Dwan conveys this abs(...)

Jeremy Corbyn is much less of a fantasist than the supposedly hard-headed Theresa May. Photograph: Neil Hall Reuters

Both parties offer versions of an imagined past but Labour’s at least yearns for something real

Police respond to the terror incident in London on Saturday night. Photograph: Hannah McKay/Reuters

Fintan O’Toole: Attacks on civil society are futile. Humans have a great capacity to just carry on

US president Donald Trump announces his decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Accords. Photograph: Getty Images

China grasps opportunity to be at the forefront of epic battle for planetary survival

Michael Noonan and European Central Bank president Mario Draghi. File photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

Obsequiousness towards Brussels technocracy is as bad for Europe as it is for Ireland

A woman becomes emotional as she looks at flowers left in St Ann Square after the bomb attack in Manchester which killed 22 people. Photograph: Getty

Manchester attack shows if you want to force horror into people’s minds, it is better to attack children

Sister Cathy Cesnik disappeared one evening in 1969 – the suggestion in ‘The Keepers’ is that she was murdered because she had discovered what Maskell was up to and threatened to expose him

Netflix documentary speaks to Ireland’s uncertain relationship to Catholicism

Their respective records on housing  and health suggest that either    Simon  Coveney and Leo Varadkar, if they get the big job, will be pretty much what we’re already used to: purveyors of cautious, piecemeal, unambitious tweaks to the status quo

To home owners with health insurance, the Fine Gael leadership contest is an interesting political battle. To the disaffected citi(...)

Arlene Foster told the BBC in February she did not even know how much the mystery donor had given the party.  Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The story of a massive donation to the DUP is like a John le Carré novel – but voters need facts, not fiction

A supporters holds up a “Comey You’re Fired” sign back in early November, when then Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was speaking in Raleigh, North Carolina. Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Trump’s instinctive gamble has always been that his fans would be happy to live vicariously through him

File image of former archbishop John Charles McQuaid.

Blasphemy, Dáil prayer and maternity hospital rows prove the Republic has lost its way

Colm Tóibín criticised cnuas proposals. Photograph: Frank Miller

Culture Shock: Colm Tóibín is right to say the Arts Council cnuas plan is ‘oddly North Korean’

The recipient of divine guidance is merely a medium for the message and the ultimate source of authority cannot be held to account because he/she made the world. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien / The Irish Times

Jesus once told nuns to sack pregnant teachers. So why has he changed his mind?

US president Donald Trump signs an executive order. He is a reality TV star before he is a politician and reality TV requires a diet of constant conflict. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

US president could have got cross-party support but chose reality TV-style conflict instead

St Vincent’s hospital campus in Dublin, to where it is proposed the National Maternity Hospital will move. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Maternity hospital debacle a symptom of public services as favours, not rights

The gradual demise of the mentality in which Ireland was merely the opposite of England has done us nothing but good. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Seeing ourselves as opposites used to be a bad idea. Now it might be a necessity

Senior people in the banks had to know that the changes they were urging on customers would harm those customers and benefit the banks – that was the whole point

There is prima facie evidence banks carried out a huge fraud. Where are the Garda?

Einstein: the length of time is relative when looking at art. If we become absorbed in a play or a piece of music, if we stand before a great painting, if we get lost in a book, we feel our sense of time shifting

In a culture that swings between tedium and hysteria, art is a democratic necessity

Trigger-happy Trump?: USS Porter fires a Tomahawk missile at Syria from the Mediterranean. Photograph: Seaman Ford Williams/US Navy/PA Wire

US strikes are a result of the president’s belief that the world must be shaped by his moods

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan. “The Government does not fully trust O’Sullivan. This is not a statement of opinion – it is a matter of fact.” Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Garda Commissioner survives because Government is asking absurd question

British prime minister Theresa May. “Is she ready for the screams of treason that will now accompany any possible compromise?” Photograph: Jane Barlow/Reuters

No one in the British government has the courage to be a true patriot

Brexit Britain: Anglo-Irish relations had been at their most settled and cordial in recorded history until the referendum result unsettled everything again. Illustration: Jennifer Maravillas/Ikon/Getty

When the UK triggers article 50 Ireland will have to do the thing it hates most: pick a side

 Theresa May and Donald Trump: “Using the Conservative and Republican parties as vehicles for revolutionary social protest is putting diesel in a petrol car: it will go for a while, but breakdown is inevitable.” Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

After Trump and the Brexiteers betray their voters, who will channel the anger?

‘By the time I was 10, growing up on a 1960s Dublin housing estate, I knew three exotic words: Artane (above), Letterfrack, Daingean. And I knew what they stood for: the hell that awaited those who did not fit in.’ Photograph: Jimmy McCormack

A vast system of Catholic repression has left Irish society with four toxic habits of mind

St Patrick’s Day parade in New York: Enda Kenny is going to the White House on St Patrick’s Day to “stand up for the undocumented Irish” – but will he stand up for all of those in the same boat? Photograph: iStock

There is tacit racism in the appeal to Trump to make Irish migrants a special case

The Taoiseach has to talk about migration – he has done so every other year he’s been at the White House. Photograph: Eric Luke

The Taoiseach should speak as passionately as he did when denouncing the Vatican in 2011

Jazz pianist Keith Jarrett: His overture to a recent concert at Carnegie Hall in New York was a speech castigating US president Donald Trump but how many minds did he change? Photograph: Henry Leutwyler

Steve Bannon – Trump’s brain – believes in a single US culture. His white-nationalist ideology gives that notion some sinister ech(...)

Feel-bad factor: US president Donald Trump  at a news conference. Photograph: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Journalists must learn how to cope with a government narrative of danger and decline

“Brian Purcell was assured that he would keep his pension entitlements and his salary of more than €180,000”. Photograph: Frank Miller

After stepping down from Justice, Brian Purcell was handed a plum job at the HSE

Maurice McCabe at his home in Mount Nugent on the Cavan/Meath border. Photograph: Barry Cronin

The realisation you live in a State in which people with huge power over you will go to such lengths sends a shiver down the spine

Neil Jordan: “His mythology has too many elements that do not quite cohere: the Tuatha dé Danann, Milton’s Paradise Lost, even the Biblical tale of the immaculate conception – all seem to jostle for space as precursors of this world.”

In Jordan’s convoluted, overly elaborate fantasy, the best moments are the poignantly human ones, writes Fintan O’Toole

The smearing of Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe was made possible by the hunger for vicious gossip that  runs deep in Irish culture. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

The Irish desire to be in the know makes it easy for abusive institutions to traduce whistleblowers

Sgt Maurice McCabe: The unavoidable question is whether there was collusion to smear McCabe between some person or persons in the Garda and some person or persons at Tusla. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

The explanation for the false file on Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe defies belief

President Donald Trump: “Like the shark, if he stops moving through the sea of outrage, he will die. If once he lets reality intrude on his ‘reality’, the show is over.” Photograph: Al Drago/New York Times

Drama and conflict are not mistakes – they are the lifeblood of the genre he inhabits

Donald Trump: The president signs some more executive orders. “Deluded tyrants, their grip on reality faltering, simply issue more directives, ordering nonexistent tank divisions to take up their positions.”  Photograph: Al Drago/The New York Times

Donald Trump’s chaotic signing of grandiose orders has the air of a deluded despot’s last days, not his first

All about my father: Olwen Fouéré in Danse, Morob.

A leading light of the Irish avant-garde conjures up her father’s wartime experiences

‘DUP leader Arlene Foster gambled on Brexit.’ Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Unionist party’s idiocy and sleazy behaviour threatens Northern Ireland’s foundations

Protesters call for a hard Brexit near 10 Downing Street, in London, Britain. Photograph: Hayoung Jeon/EPA

Move to leave the EU feeds into the British taste for celebrating disasters as triumphs

US president Donald Trump celebrates after his inauguration speech in Washington, DC, on Friday. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

US president’s cabinet is like a punk band with members chosen for inability to perform

‘Arlene Foster and her colleagues knew with complete certainty that a large majority of voters in Northern Ireland wished to stay in the EU. Foster as First Minister had a duty to represent, not the DUP, but Northern Ireland.’ Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Never mind ‘cash for ash’, the party has trashed Northern Ireland’s vital interests

Leading member of Sinn Féin Martin McGuinness. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

As deputy first minister he showed the same determination with which he led the IRA

Maeve Brennan: Even for the daughters of the revolution, Ireland was no country for young women. Photograph: Getty Images

First published on January 1st, 1998, this essay helped revive interest in a once neglected but now highly-regarded Irish writer

A protest in Los Angeles against the appointment, by Donald Trump, of white nationalist alt-right media mogul Steve Bannon as chief strategist of the White House. Photograph:  David McNew/AFP/Getty Images

Like most viruses, fascism adapts to changing environments and it’s just as deadly

TK Whitaker at his home in Stillorgan in 2014. Photograph: David Sleator

Ireland’s greatest conservative revolutionary forced the state to alter the way it saw itself

Sebastian Barry: “That’s enough of that, I say, I don’t want to say no more. Silence.” Photograph: Alan Betson

For the Irish, silence is a way of dealing with, and surviving, traumatic exile

‘The governor of the Central Bank Philip Lane told the Oireachtas Finance Committee that it must wait and see what enforcement action will be taken against individuals in the banks. But we’ve waited at least six years and seen nothing.’ Photograph: Eric Luke

Gardaí have yet to investigate how thousands were tricked into switching mortgages

Victory by Geert Wilders’s far-right party in  Dutch parliamentary elections would mark a turning away by an  EU founding member  from the  core values of the union.  Photograph: Jens Schlueter/Getty Images

It could be the year of anarcho-authoritarianism – or the world may come to its senses

Bloomsday 1954: John Ryan, Anthony Cronin, Brian O’Nolan, Patrick Kavanagh and  Tom Joyce, on Sandymount strand

But his standing as a public intellectual is coloured by his relationship with Haughey

Rwandese refugees, 1994:  the  genocide in Rwanda was somehow glimpsed in peripheral vision. Nothing much changed because of it. Photograph: Jeremiah Kamau/Reuters

We live in a post-postwar world but the lessons of history must not be forgotten

Fintan O’Toole on poet Vona Groarke’s elegant, moving meditation on the pain of lost love

These Rooms, a dance-theatre fusions with Anu, a highlight for this past year

Culture review 2016: Seanad National Museum land grab shows depths of philistinism in our political culture

At Christmas, Ireland looks like what it might be if we were not an emigrant culture.  Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Beneath the seasonal franticity is something fragile, fleeting and precious

It is not this year or last that we discovered that human beings will quite sincerely believe any farrago of falsity and that unscrupulous leaders will both feed and manipulate those beliefs

Technology has helped big lies breed and multiply. Grand-scale political lying can go hand in hand with violence, oppression and c(...)

Protest  about Independent Newspapers pensions: three things that might change the culture of taking other people’s money are a sense of shame, powerful regulation and serious punishment. Photograph: Eric Luke

INM pensions scandal shows there is no unacceptable face of Irish capitalism

“I was one of the eejits who paid the current water charges. The people who didn’t never will.” Photograph: Eric Luke

Time and again, those of us who pay property and water taxes are made to feel like fools

 Refurbishment of Seanad chamber (above) prompted move on to National Museum’s territory.   Photograph: Alan Betson

Upper chamber’s arrogance shows nothing but contempt for the National Museums

Fly him to the moon: Michael O’Leary, “Ireland’s leading altogether decent person”. Photograph: Alan Betson

The Ryanair boss could sweep to power with help from complacent establishment

 Finance Minister Michael Noonan (left) with Spanish finance minister Luis de Guindos Jurado:  of the 28 EU countries, the three that did worst on social justice are Ireland, Spain and Greece Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty

Ireland was one of the worst EU countries at preserving fairness in face of recession

Leader of the far-right National Front party in France Marine Le Pen. Ms Le Pen is running for president in France. Photograph: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images

The EU, as bad as it is, is the only bloc left that can reassert open democracy

Donald Trump: at his most ludicrous and vulgar he embodies the crisis of masculinity. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Donald Trump’s election is the United States’ reaction to a series of huge problems: democracy is broken, inequality is growing, m(...)

President-elect Donald Trump arrives for his election night rally at the New York Hilton. Photograph: REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

There is still another America, an America that will wake up feeling it has lost its country

There is a particular kind of fear we know to be especially corrosive of democracy – status anxiety. When people are afraid of losing a status they have or have had, they turn nasty. Photograph: Molly Riley/AFP/Getty Images

Victory for Clinton would not mark end of crisis of democracy in United States

Oscar Wilde  wrote to the Daily Chronicle about the dismissal of one of Reading Gaol’s warders for giving a young child, imprisoned for poaching rabbits, a biscuit.

Fintan O'Toole visits the cell where Wilde was imprisoned, and finds it haunted by the ghosts of more anonymous victims

If the aim is for Ireland to have the best education system in Europe in 10 years, we then have to figure out whether you achieve this by discriminating against new entrants to teaching. Photograph: Tommy Clancy

The system had flaws under Bertie Ahern but it did three indispensable things

Members of the Defence Forces march past Éamon de Valera at the GPO on Easter Sunday 1966 to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Rising. Photograph: Alan Betson

Most striking about the official cultural commemoration events of 2016 is how unofficial they have been. Reverence has been notabl(...)

Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan: commissioned an analysis from four independent lawyers of the concentration of media ownership in Ireland. Photograph; Dara Mac Dónaill

The coverage of a study of media ownership confirms how much the issue matters

A soft, ambiguous and contingent Brexit could be possible – with Ireland’s help

More than 5,600 women in Ireland tried to buy abortion pills online over a five-year period from one Dutch-based supplier alone

Even Donald Trump withdrew his call to punish women who have abortions

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