‘The inscrutability of the living cartoon enables Hook to be, by a considerable distance, the greatest Irish broadcaster since Gaybo, entering into the imaginations of his audience, inviting love and loathing in equal proportions.’ Photograph: Eric Luke

Behind the Right Hook – the cartoon character he inhabits to maximum effect on radio and TV – is an ambitious broadcaster with com(...)

Opinion: What has been gained on fees for parking has been lost on lower rates income

Lucinda Creighton: a great woman who in a healthy country would be embraced as a God-sent force. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Opinion: Ireland has turned its back on the possibility of real change in favour of selling itself to anyone who will buy

Michael Noonan: his, and the Government’s, strategy appeared to evoke a wide measure of support in the newspapers. Photographer: Aidan Crawley

Opinion: Survey found preponderance of articles in newspapers supporting Government’s approach to economic crisis

Opinion: It is not for anyone to decide in advance that such and such a position is a minority one

 “Journalism has become a branch of the entertainment industry.” Photograph: Alan Betson

Opinion: The job of news media is tell people what happened, what the facts are

Opinion: Survey of attitudes seems to indicate that we are becoming more tolerant of ‘bad language’

Opinion: Research shows judges often finds disputes over children difficult and distasteful

Opinion: Judge in High Court in Rome has expressed outrage at treatment of woman

Lucinda Creighton: speaking in a way she would not have a year ago as she has come to understand something of the public mood. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

Opinion: Ireland needs an energy which speaks to the real needs of our people rather than the vested interests of our EU masters (...)

Lee Harvey Oswald is led through the Dallas police station in 1963 after the assassination of President Kennedy. Photograph:

Opinion: The ‘change’ or ‘hope’ symbolised by JFK was not of the kind normally associated with the political left

Mary O’Rourke: A TD has no more entitlement to be told what goes on in a family law court than does a reporter or an editor.  Photograph: Alan Betson

Opinion: At the moment deputies are prohibited from hearing what happens behind closed doors

Charlie Flanagan TD: raised concerns about the effects on children of identifying them in the Roma  cases. Photograph: Eric Luke

Opinion: State agencies normally protect the veil of secrecy with extreme menaces

Many of Lou Reed’s songs resembled movies, novels or short stories more than they did other pop songs. Photograph: Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

The Velvet Underground singer rendered ugliness beautiful and beauty sad beyond belief

Minister for  Children Frances Fitzgerald speaking to media yesterday about the recent Roma children incidents. Photograph: Alan Betson

Opinion: What happened to these two families in daylight has happened to others in secret

Former Munster MEP Kathy Sinnott and John Waters appearing in a TV debate on the children’s referendum.

Opinion: If referendum is rerun, media will campaign again for more power for State

Colm Tóibín: writes in a beguiling mixture of prose and poetry. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Opinion: We have ceased to treat seriously the great questions of existence

Eamon Dunphy: ‘I think the mob are always wrong, so it’s not hard to be a contrarian if you’re true to your own passion, your own intellect.’ Photograph: Cyril Byrne Eamon Dunphy: ‘I think the mob are always wrong, so it’s not hard to be a contrarian if you’re true to your own passion, your own intellect.’ Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Dunphy opens up about his many personas, disappointing his parents, how he broke down in tears after finding himself on the outsid(...)

 Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD launches Fine Gael’s Yes campaign this month. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien / The Irish Times

A Yes vote would render some of the most powerful people in our society more untouchable than ever

UN Veterans participate in the Commemoration Parade to mark the 90th Anniversary of the Easter Rising passes. Taoiseach wants to “go to the country in the sacred days of 2016”. PHOTOGRAPH: BRYAN O’BRIEN

‘Instead of idealism, Fine Gael offers constitutional vandalism’

Responses to columns are almost invariably toxic

This column is not for the vitriolic online mob

Vaclav Havel: not merely an anti-communist, his themes were universal. Photograph: Reuters

Opinion: Vaclav Havel taught us the useful lesson of the power of the powerless

Ger Colleran: doesn’t take things personally or bear grudges. Photograph: Eric Luke

Opinion: we are now left operating with just a portion of our reason

Journalists have so many questions, but seem averse to any questioning by others of their own procedures or prejudices. Photograph: AP

Journalists the most touchy of creatures when it comes to comment on their role

The Mater hospital, part-owned by the Sisters of Mercy and managed independently of the Health Service Executive by its own board of governors, is one of 25 named in the legislation as “appropriate institutions” where abortions “may” take place. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Opinion: The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill was an ideological ‘present’ by Fine Gael to Labour

Answering Ireland’s call: the horizontal encounter was all over Facebook. Photograph: Eric Luke

The new breed of moralisers have Facebook pages rather than the traditional blackthorn stick

Fathers don’t seem to fit in to the great romance of mother and child. Photograph: Eric Luke

Irish commentariat had little to say about High Court application over proposed abortion

Pope Francis on his way to the island of Lampedusa this week. His publication in his name of the work of his predecessor reminds us that it is the witness of others that enables us to know anything. Photograph: Getty Images

Faith is not a leap in the dark but a lamp which guides our steps

Brian Eno: his work focuses on the avoidance of cliche and short-circuits of understanding.

Modern culture seeks to extinguish mystery

“It’s not so much the money as the principle, the Pandora’s Box syndrome.” Photographer: Dara Mac Donaill

Teasing out the moral distinctions involved in protection from suicide in differing circumstances

Colm McCann, with former minister Mary Hanafin and actor Gabriel Byrne at an event in New York. Photograph: James Higgins

McCann’s ‘TransAtlantic’ a remarkable tapestry of fiction and reality

One analysis would suggest that we are happy because Irish glasses are always on the way to being full. Photograph: PA

Opinion: the role of money in promoting happiness is open to very serious doubt

Gardaí at a graduation ceremoney at the Garda college in Templemore. “An Irish person who dons a uniform – far from representing the community, becomes somehow alien to it.” Photograph: David Sleator

Column: It is a truism of Irish culture and society that we never got our heads around the idea that the State now belongs to us (...)

“The ‘exorcism’ lasted 10 seconds. When Pope Francis arrived, he immediately rested his left hand on the young man’s head and spoke with a priest standing behind the wheelchair. The young man kissed the pope’s ring, suggesting that the devil was not in total control.” Photograph: AP/APTN

Column: I saw no exorcism in St Peter’s Square last Sunday, because nothing of the kind occurred

People hold candles at the annual Console “service of light” in St Patrick’s Chapel,  Maynooth College, last December, to remember those who have died by suicide. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Column: There is no talk about what happens to men when their relationships break down, or what role society might play

Amber Weiss and Sharon Papo walk through City Hall in San Francisco after exchanging wedding vows on the first full day of legal same-sex marriages there in 2008. “Abortion, euthanasia, homosexual marriage – all these have in common that they represent a repudiation of existing understandings and belief systems.” Photograph: Erin Siegal/Reuters

Column: It is difficult to identify where journalism ends and ideology begins

Members of the Pro-Life Campaign in a protest outside the Dáil this week. Photograph: Alan Betson

Column: The destination of what is termed the ‘liberal’ agenda is the unpicking of the prevailing social edifice

Frankie Gavin of De Dannan is being honoured in Verona today, but he must work most of the year abroad to make a living. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Ireland is home to some extraordinary talent, yet they often need to travel far to be recognised as such

A participant in an anti-austerity march in Dublin last November. Photograph: Alan Betson

Artificial scarcity is imposed to satisfy markets in absurd system

President Michael D Higgins and European Parliament president Martin Schulz address journalists during a press briefing at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday. Photograph: Fred Marvaux

In his speech to the European Parliament, President Michael D Higgins lived up to every expectation we could have had of him

“Ideally, an Irish male ‘conservative’ should wear a tweed sports jacket over a báinín sweater concealing an extravagantly frayed shirt, with a tie knot peeping up over the neck of the sweater. A fáinne or pioneer pin brings added points.” Photograph: David Sleator

What appear to be debates are now more usually summary trials that generate heat but no light

“If marriage no longer needs to be something that involves a male and a female, why does it have to involve just two of either sex?”

Surely everyone knows the SpunOut initiative is part of a long-term strategy to restore the Celtic Tiger?

Money is supposed to belong to the people, but it has become the instrument of the people’s enslavement

People queue to make transactions at an ATM outside a branch of Laiki Bank in Nicosia.  Photograph: Yannis Behrakis/Reuters

The idea that people may retain the fruits of their work is no longer to be entertained

“Religion is the best means human culture has contrived to develop a sense, at both personal and collective levels, of the absolute and infinite dimensions of existence.” Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Hostility towards Catholicism blinding us to how much we depend on the Christian faith

If a man came down from Mars and listened quietly for a week or two, he might detect something odd relating to sexual freedom…

Seduced by the cover headline – “Benedict’s Quiet Revolution” – I’d invested in the February 15th edition of Newsweek before …

The pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI has had two key themes: the crisis engulfing humanity in modern man-made culture and the…

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan during a press briefing last week on the revised promissory notes arrangement

In the past fortnight, the phrase “promissory note” has taken on a new and darker significance

Few can have missed the dramatic contrast between the Taoiseach’s weak response to the McAleese report in the Dáil last Tuesday…

If liberal individualists had campaigned against abortion, it would have become unacceptable years ago

This week, my teenage daughter became an Irish Times reader, having taken delivery on Monday of the first episode of the subscript(...)

For a few days there, we heard nothing but fiscal cliff

Anyone even momentarily taken in by the lamentations of social media users and operators to the effect that curtailment of their…

Last Friday, the day Seán FitzPatrick was arraigned before Dublin District Court – resulting in those memorable images of the…

In recent years, my work as a journalist has come more and more to resemble an iceberg, in this respect at least: most of it …

In a mass media society, singing the virtues of change is among the more constant refrains of public discourse

When I started working for this newspaper, 20-odd years ago, the word “media” was still treated as a plural form, though in common(...)

The re-election of Barack Obama means, in effect, no change in political terms

The proposal attacks the very molecule of society, the unit group out of which the health of the whole emanates

I PUT in a fascinating few days last weekend at the Battle of Ideas event at the Barbican in London, where I had been invited…

The maverick deputies are coming across as comic-strip rebels, the Bash Street Kids of Leinster House

The constitutional amendment on children’s rights opens a door to arbitrariness in relation to family law that should frighten…

WITH BARE-FACED dishonesty, proponents of the “children’s rights” amendment persistently cite two landmark childcare cases – …

IF OUR displeasure concerning the paramilitary display at the funeral of the assassinated criminal Alan Ryan is confined to a…

ONE OF the more commonplace arguments that crops up in relation to abortion is that it is a matter on which only women should…

Irish culture has been painstakingly manipulated by people trying to further their case

The boxer’s faith makes interviewers squirm but is intrinsic to her world view, her personality and her right hook

NOBODY OWNS Dublin, not the Dubs and certainly not the culchies or other outsiders

AFTER I first came to Dublin, I would find my way into the city by following the Grand Canal from Kilmainham, through what I …

DESPITE THEIR trumpeting by a media determined to jump on anything to “prove” its God-is- dead, long-live-the-media thesis, the…

The pursuit of small-fry individuals distracts the public’s attention from an economic system not fit for purpose

ON WEDNESDAY, US Independence Day, in an op-ed piece, “The Downside of Liberty”, in the New York Times, the novelist Kurt Andersen(...)

The reductive, cynical media overlooked the real significance of the Eucharistic Congress

AT THE Dalkey Book Festival last weekend, at an event based on my book Was It for This?, David McWilliams and I had a bracing…

As in a spaghetti western, the heroes and villains of Irish politics are distinguished mainly by appearances

Shutting out mystery reduces everything to a soup of simple understandings, easily digestible by the greatest number

Money is a magical substance, created out of nothing, but we have surrendered its occult powers at great cost

YES VOTERS, like Tolstoy’s happy families, are essentially alike (if not quite happy), while each No and Don’t Know represents…

The groups leading the discussion have already decided which side their bread is buttered on

THE DOWNSTREAM benefits of the Carragher report into the Prime Time Investigates libel of Fr Kevin Reynolds, I downheartedly …

I HAVE followed the Fr Brian D’Arcy saga for days in a vain attempt to learn what precise heresies the Congregation for the Doctri(...)

THIS WEEK, Pope Benedict XVI turned 85; yesterday marked the start of the eighth year of his pontificate, the most extraordinary…

‘THE DYING Christ has not lost his faith

THERE IS a local authority down the country in which, until recently, the procedure for having a pre-application discussion with…

THERE ARE reasons why the judicial systems of human societies have developed scrupulous procedures to ensure that, if someone…

THEY SAY you can’t compare an apple with an orange, but now we have a man doing 6½ years in prison for the fiscal difference …

ONE WOULDN’T expect Micheál Martin to agree, but Éamon Ó Cuív may have done both his party and his country a favour by taking…

THE RUNNING story about the closure of the Vatican embassy is revealing concerning the undertows of Irish life, thinking and …

WE ARE used to politicians running scared of proposals to tackle Ireland’s lethal relationship with alcohol

Is a bishop really being investigated for inciting hatred following a complaint over his homily?

IT’S BEEN my experience of media that, whenever I am somehow implicated in a story, I find that virtually all the minor details…

AND SO we come to the end of, allegedly, the most “depressing” week of the year

DESPITE ONE-THIRD of births occurring in non-marital relationships, unmarried Irish fathers remain deeply ignorant of their legal…

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