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 spi(...)

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 nota(...)

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

The collective works in our series show how molten and defiant Irish artworks can be

Let the shaman perform the rites of “unveiling the budget” (telling phrase that) and the other druids and elders deliver the magic words, do the ritual dances and holler the ritual shout of approbation. Photograph: Frank Miller

Financial plan is a tribal ritual, not a serious exercise in democratic scrutiny

Fintan O’Toole: What’s happening across much of the western world right now is that we have whole movements (metaphorically) of 15-year-old adolescent boys. Trump, UKIP and much of the new populist right across Europe have the ludicrous, idiotic swagger of the hormonally deranged schoolboy.

Trump, UKIP and much of the new populist right across Europe have the idiotic swagger of the hormonally deranged schoolboy

Swan Lake/Loch na hEala: fuses drama and dance, exquisite aesthetic refinement and knockabout satire, simple storytelling and dazzlingly complex physical imagery

Dublin Theatre Festival is staging thrilling blends of dance and drama by Michael Keegan-Dolan, Anu and CoisCéim

 A Syrian civil defence volunteer, known as the “white helmets”, holds the body of a child after he was pulled from the rubble following a government forces air strike on the rebel-held neighbourhood of Karm Homad in the northern city of Aleppo, on October 4th, 2016. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

American indifference to “collateral damage” no more evil than Russian cynicism about the deaths of about 320 civilians, includin(...)

At the commemoration in Custume Barracks, Athlone, a relative points to the plaque marking the 55th anniversary of the siege of Jadotville in the Congo in 1961. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

My uncle could have bragged about Jadotville – but he never did

Sinéad Morrissey: more than one way to view history

The poet grew up in the heat of the Troubles, but her work avoids any direct reckoning

Camille O’Sullivan in Ancient Rain at the  Olympia Theatre,  as part of Dublin Theatre Festival

Dublin Theatre Festival: Irish poems set to music beg the question - why?

Neither St Augustine nor St Thomas Aquinas held that the foetus in the early stages of development has a full human soul. Photograph: Getty

It is wrong to equate a woman to a group of cells at the moment of conception

Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation John Halligan and Taoiseach, Enda Kenny while speaking at the launch of the action plan for education. Photograph: Alan Betson

There is nothing wrong with having high hopes, but action plan for education is an exercise in denial

Arás an Uachtaráin: Michael D Higgins in his study at his official residence. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

The President discusses the poverty of his early life, his health, his future and the struggles of the Irish Republic

Immersive: in Laundry each member of the audience had to move through the former Gloucester Street Magdalene laundry alone, forced to confront a deliberately forgotten past

By staging her play in a former Magdalene laundry the playwright compels the audience to inhabit the haunted spaces of Irish hist(...)

Ajai Chopra of the IMF. The the dominant emotion about the 2010 troika bailout was  Relief. Relief that someone else was taking charge. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Underneath our bluster is an insecurity that prevents us from adapting to the changing world

One of the big underlying stories of Ireland in the past 20 years is the strange death of Anglophobia. Illustration: Mark Harwood/Getty/ITPM

An Irish Times series explores Ireland’s relationship with its bigger, more powerful neighbour, our changing levels of enmity an(...)

Emma Donoghue: exile and motherhood both help to shape her novel Room. Photograph: Lynn Goldsmith/Rex

The Dublin author’s book is an intensification of the common experience of having a child, in all its claustrophobic terror and gl(...)

Seamus Heaney at his old primary school in Anahorish, Bellaghy, Co Derry, in spring 1996. Photograph: Bobbie Hanvey Photographic Archives/John J Burns Library/Boston College

The North’s Minister for Infrastructure has given the go-ahead for a dual carriageway to push right through Mossbawn, Anahorish an(...)

Are we really going to defend the Ireland of the great kleptocrat Charles Haughey? Photograph: Colman Doyle

It is against what would be deemed our national interest to be seen as a rogue state

The certainty that is being held out as the reward for sticking by Apple and appealing the ruling is already gone. Niall Carson/PA Wire

Our decades old economic strategy based on low corporation tax is probably doomed anyway

Troubles: violence looms over Deirdre Madden’s work. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

The power of the novelist’s work lies in its control and transformation of powerful feeling into understated art

‘Try this little game. Put the phrase “passionate about” into a search engine and then add a random word.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Coming soon: the passion of the panel beater

Hidden recess: Colm Tóibín explores parts that people try to hide. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Colm Tóibín’s short stories bring into the light the side of themselves that people try to bury

“At 23 miles Jim Hogan was half-dead, slumped on the ground, hoping strangers would understand the universal gesture for “water, please”. He was a pathetic loser – and my hero, then and now.”

Losers of Olympian history are still our heroes – marked out by their courage

John Banville: Wexford’s coast is a place of ‘narrow horizontals’. Photograph: Frank Miller

John Banville won the Booker Prize for ‘The Sea’, but it is of a piece with his other novels, which deal with the tests of time – (...)

Candles are lit  at the vigil at Eyre Square in Galway to mark the first anniversary of the death of Savita Halappanavar. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

Irish anti-abortion campaigners should stop basing their case on a wild untruth

Paul Muldoon has pored over his own mixed feelings about the heritage of the Rising

The new public ambivalence is best exemplified by two northern artists, Paul Muldoon and Rita Duffy

The people of three of the five parts of These Islands (Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland) now see their relations with the rest of the world in one way while those of the other two (England and Wales) see them very differently.

Current political shape of These Islands carries asterisk: terms and conditions apply

Ballymun: on the estate in 1996; the last high-rise was demolished in 2015. Photograph: Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Rex

Dublin’s best-known tower blocks were to be a bright new world. What went wrong?

The aftermath of the 1998 Omagh bombing: “Donald Trump and Newt Gingrich, for example, could benefit from a crash course in the Troubles to remind them that Isis no more equals Islam that the UDA equals Protestantism or the IRA Catholicism.” Photograph: Frank Millar/The Irish Times

Our communities have generated resilient and effective terrorist organisations

A woman arrives with a stuffed toy and a bouquet of flowers as people pay tribute near the scene where a truck ran into a crowd at high speed killing scores and injuring more who were celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday, in Nice, France. Photograph: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

The line between an open, democratic and civilised society and its nihilistic opponents is defined by terror and pity

Former British Conservative Party leadership candidate Andrea Leadsom. Photograph: Chris J Ratcliffe/AFP/Getty Images

Opportunistic politicians are promoting a discourse based on unrealistic optimism

A sign saying welcome to Northern Ireland is seen on the border of Armagh and Louth in Ireland. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

The Government must oppose moves to take NI out of the EU against its will

 Boris Johnson: The farce of Boris Johnson’s abortive leadership bid is just a token of a deeper truth: this is a game of thrones that is all game and no throne.

Boris Johnson was only playing, after all. But he was playing with fire

Backward-looking nostalgic nationalism: when, exactly, was the golden age of Englishness that Brexiters want to return to? Photograph: Chris J Ratcliffe/AFP/Getty

Leave campaigners cling to ‘Jerusalem’ and ‘This scepter’d isle’. They’ve misunderstood both William Blake and Shakespeare

Focus on equality rather than the creation of a super state

A file image from 2005 showing a fortified police station in the Border village of Crossmaglen in  Northern Ireland. ‘Given that the Border could not be secured with army watchtowers during the Troubles, it is not at all clear how a new policing operation will work.’ Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty

Opinion: ‘To do this seriously and soberly is bad. To do it so carelessly is frankly insulting’

'Vote Leave' campaigner Boris Johnson attends a press conference in London after the Brexit referendum. Photograph: Mary Turner/Getty Images

Brexit vote reveals rancour and distrust at the heart of the English body politic

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