‘The Minister for Health Leo Varadkar recently said that the health service, simply to meet current demand, needs an extra €1 billion a year’. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

‘Proportionally, the Irish State raises only about 80 per cent of the revenue raised by the average euro-zone state’

Fintan O’Toole, pictured with his then-four-year-old son Samuel in ‘The Irish Times’ in August 1990, when he walked 80 kilometres of the Wicklow Way, from Marlay Park to Clonegal

You can walk for miles every day with a four-year-old – as long as you know your musicals. A new series revisits some of our best(...)

Borstal breaker: Behan pounding away on incendiary prose. Photograph: Daniel Farson/Picture Post/Getty Images

Brendan Behan’s experiences banged up in the porridge set the stage for his anti-capital punishment masterpiece, a drama about wai(...)

“What’s wrong with taxing inherited wealth? It’s about the most progressive and least economically damaging kind of taxation there is.” Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

How about free primary education instead of a cut in inheritance tax?

Patrick O’Donoghue in the RTÉ series The Gleneagle. Photograph: RTÉ

‘Killarney hotel was at the centre of some classic Celtic Tiger rezoning shenanigans’

Waiting for Godot: Lucien Raimbourg, Jean Martin, Pierre Latour and Roger Blin in Blin’s production of En Attendant Godot at Théâtre de Babylone, in Paris, in 1953. Photograph: Lipnitzki/Roger Viollet/Getty

Beckett’s absurdist masterpiece, which he wrote first in French, looks squarely at ‘humanity in ruins’ after the second World War (...)

Ivan Turgenev: the playwright fashioned a “theatre of moods, of secret turmoil rather than explicit action”, as has his adapter Brian Friel. Portrait by Mokouski/Getty

Brian Friel plays up the farce in his version of Turgenev’s ‘A Month in the Country’, but Ethan McSweeny’s production at the Gate (...)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble during a special session of the German Bundestag over the proposed bailout package for Greece last week.  Photograph: EPA/BERND VON JUTRCZENKA

‘This is not a moment in European history – it is at least two parallel moments’

Brussels all-nighter.... Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (right)  and Finance Minister Euclide Tsakalotos leave at the end of the  euro zone summit on Monday.   Photograph:  Thierry Charlier/AFP/Getty Images

No deeper divide than that between those brought to heel and those who shout ‘Heel!’

Illuminatus-in-chief?  Klaus Regling, chief executive officer of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF).  Photographer: Graham Crouch/Bloomberg via Getty Images

We EU subjects have our own supreme ayatollahs of fiscal correctness now

Taoiseach Enda Kenny told Greece that “in Ireland’s case we did not increase income tax; we did not increase VAT; we did not increase PRSI”. Photograph: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Fintan O'Toole: Myths about Ireland as Europe’s best behaved state are not harmless lies

Migrants try to  board lorries bound for the United Kingdom in Calais this week. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

‘Migration is the world’s way of reminding the West that it cannot distance itself from the human catastrophes it has unleashed’ (...)

‘The payments were cut by one-third in 2014 from €150 to €100 for primary school children aged four to 11, and from €250 to €200 for secondary school students aged 12 to 17. This was a cold, deliberate choice to increase poverty among the children we know to be most vulnerable.’ Photograph: Getty Images

‘Back to School allowance for clothes and shoes were cut by one-third in 2014 from €150 to €100 for primary school children aged (...)

Breathtaking: Marty Rea Richard is like nothing on earth, an ethereal creature who seems to float over the ground in his Japanese robes. This captures exactly the conception of kingship that will doom him in DruidShakespeare

The director’s extraordinary take on Shakespeare’s Henry plays, reworked by Mark O’Rowe and starring Aisling O’Sullivan, Derbhle C(...)

‘Larry Goodman’s fortune in the 1980s was built on his brilliant and relentless use of the massive EU and State subsidies available to the beef industry.’ Photograph: Alan Betson / THE IRISH TIMES

‘There is a myth of the self-made man, the rugged individualist who succeeds in building an empire in spite of the nanny State’ (...)

‘One of the best of the Beit paintings to be sold at Christie’s is David Teniers’s depiction of a Flemish country dance, the Kermesse (detail, above). As a work of art, it is delightfully anarchic, with groups of people dancing, shouting, pointing and reeling with intoxication. As a depiction for the dance around the notion of the “public trust” in this whole affair, it is all too symbolic.’

‘The tale of the Beit paintings merely puts some more glamorous touches to a drearily familiar canvas’

Mary Lavin: the writer led her stories into unexpected ground. Photograph: Evelyn Hofer

The four stories in this fine collection by an unpredictable, taboo-breaching writer capture a mood of struggling with confinement(...)

Dramatic legacy: Samuel Beckett directing Waiting for Godot in Berlin in 1975; it is surely impossible to encounter the stark setting of WB Yeats’s Purgatory – a road, a tree – without thinking of Beckett’s play. Photograph: Heuer/Ullstein Bild via Getty

Like Beckett, Yeats imagined every detail of his plays on the stage. Like Beckett, he has to be done well or not at all. And his i(...)

‘The startling thing about Leslie Buckley’s announcement is it suggests that, whatever the bluster, Denis O’Brien does not take seriously the prospect the Fine Gael-led government will do anything to curb his current media power or to stop its future expansion.’ Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

‘Announcement suggests that, whatever the bluster, Denis O’Brien does not take seriously the prospect that the Fine Gael-led gove(...)

The February 1945 edition of ‘The Bell’, Ireland’s main intellectual monthly, carried an essay by one Donat O’Donnell on the Irish Independent. The author was described only as having “recently graduated from Trinity College Dublin”. He was, in fact, the young Conor Cruise O’Brien, writing under a pseudonym.

The ‘Irish Times’ Modern Ireland in 100 Artworks project has published its first 30 entries, covering 1916-1945 – a time of parado(...)

Elizabeth Bowen: “The disruptions of the war, oddly, gave Bowen a sense of common purpose, making the deep uncertainties of her own identity merely part of the common human condition”

The writer used her unique imagination to devastating effect in these stories

Businessman Denis O’Brien. ‘O’Brien has accumulated excessive private power. He has been allowed to take effective control of the largest Irish newspaper group and of two of the three national talk radio stations.’ Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

‘The definition of excessive private power is that it ceases to be private’

Louis MacNeice: the poet recalled drinking in a bar with the “Dublin literati” after Germany invaded Poland in 1939. “They hardly mentioned the war but debated the correct versions of Dublin street songs”

The Belfast-born poet was deeply unhappy about Ireland’s stance on the second World War. He could not accept neutrality in a deci(...)

‘Their interests have been comprehensively ignored by those with power. In all the rhetoric of “tough choices” and “hard decisions”, they have been the soft target, the easy option.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Those from Yes and No sides should unite to end child poverty by 2020

On Friday, Ireland stopped being afraid of itself. The No campaign was all about fear — the fear that change could have only one vehicle (the handcart) and one destination (hell). And this time, it didn’t work.

LGBT community has given all of Irish democracy one of its greatest days

Don’t sweat the small stuff: Kate Lydic and Hamish Allan-Headley in The Belle of Belfast, staged by the Irish Repertory Theatre

‘The Belle of Belfast’, an Oirish play that’s a hit off Broadway, proves the Martin McDonagh effect. He brilliantly pastiches the (...)

‘Irish marriage has already changed in far more fundamental ways than is now being proposed. And those changes haven’t destroyed it. They’ve purified it by rooting it, not in systematic discrimination against women, but in the love between equal people.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Legal changes over the years profoundly altered the state of marriage for the better

Hungry hills: Patrick Kavanagh could write with great lyric power about the ordinary life of an ordinary farm. Photograph courtesy of the Wiltshire Collection/National Library of Ireland

The poet skewers traditional depictions of Irish country life and highlights the era’s sexual sterility in his long satirical work(...)

‘They want to shoot their bad guys – gay men and lesbians – but they end up blasting away at everybody else as well. Kill them all and let God sort them out.’  Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

‘I had a vasectomy 25 years ago, so our “union” has not been “open to life” for a quarter of a century. We’re not a proper family’(...)

As well as the Sesame Street characters, the icing was to have the Queerspace logo and the slogan “Support Gay Marriage”. The evangelical Christian McArthur family, which owns the bakery, refused the order because it would be “at odds with our beliefs”. Photograph: Getty Images

Verdict in Belfast ‘gay cake’ near but the case dovetails with a wider reactionary argument

Irish outlook: George Bernard Shaw. Photograph: Ullstein Bild via Getty

There is no convenient canon of Irish war literature, like that which appeared in Britain, even though Ireland had three towering (...)

‘In the Coen Brothers’ The Hudsucker Proxy, Tim Robbins plays a guy who works in the mail room of a big corporation. He keeps trying to get the men in suits to look at his great new design idea. When they finally agree to see it, it is a piece of paper with nothing on it except a large O.’ Above,  Robbins and Paul Newman in a scene from  The Hudsucker Proxy. Photograph: Warner Brothers/Getty Images

A prototype answer for all Irish scandals: a sheet of paper with a big O on it

Slaughter: a British heavy field gun on a cliff top at Helles Bay, Gallipoli, in 1915, laid over a new photograph of the location, on the Aegean Sea. Photographs: Ernest Brooks/Getty and Sean Gallup/Getty

What’s heroic about being mown down as you wade towards a beach before you’ve even had the chance to fire a shot? What could ever (...)

‘In fairness, “inadvertent” does not cover negligence, incompetence or recklessness. But it does allow a garda – and by extension others exercising State power – to say “Sorry, it was an honest mistake” and to be told by a court “That’s alright then.” Photograph: Eric Luke

‘The Supreme Court did a terrible day’s work for accountability in Irish public life’

Kate O’Brien: Pray for the Wanderer is an attack on Éamon de Valera. Photograph: Sasha/Getty

The author of the once-banned novel ‘Mary Lavelle’ deals fearlessly with ‘the problems of the Catholic conscience’

‘Rahm Emmanuel, of whom his friend and former boss Barack Obama once said that when he lost his middle finger in an accident it rendered him practically mute, was re-elected as mayor of Chicago last week. But only narrowly and only after being forced into a runoff. It is a development that should be watched carefully in Ireland because it just may mark the death of the Irish machine.’ Photograph: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

The Irish political machine is dying in Chicago – is it on the way out in Ireland too?

Striking workers and union representatives on the picket line at Dunnes Stores on Henry Street, Dublin, last week. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Culture of zero-hour contract, which Dunnes has been trying to embed, an assault on all that Dunnes once helped to define

No fixed self: Derbhle Crotty in the title role of Katie Roche, by Teresa Deevy, at the Peacock Theatre in April 1994

In the 1930s Teresa Deevy was a star Abbey writer. Then, suddenly, she was dropped. Were the questions she raised about the lives (...)

‘Alan Kelly, to his credit, recognised that this was not exactly the best label to stick on his shiny new ministerial suit. He announced that the funding would be temporarily restored pending a review of the whole scheme.’  Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Waiting for review of funding to 23 organisations that provide support services for people with chronic disabilities

Potent myth: “I did what I had to do to win . . . Then I see all those maggots at the airport. Protesting me. Spitting,” says Sylvester Stallone’s character, inaccurately, in Rambo: First Blood

‘The Imitation Game’ and ‘Selma’ have both been scrutinised for historical accuracy. Is it fair to expect film-makers to stick to (...)

Distinct perspective: Oliver Sheppard’s statue was inspired not by the Easter Rising but by the Celtic revivalist interest in the myth of Cúchulainn. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

The sculptor’s famous statue, at the GPO in Dublin, shows how hard it is to fix a historic moment in Irish culture

‘The Bertieist system was highly sophisticated: it created ever-shifting coalitions of interest based not on any long-term coherence but on brilliantly improvised management and huge wads of cash. It was an essentially tribal system, in which the big chief kept control over the little chiefs by distributing or withholding largesse.’ Photograph: Alan Betson

For how many of its 93 years of existence has the State been economically successful?

Big-house “gel”: Molly Keane at Belleville, her home in Cappoquin, in the 1930s. Photograph courtesy of Waterford County Museum

The playwright and novelist demythologised the world of the Irish big house, depicting its decline with a masterly combination of (...)

“The habits of suppressing your natural moral revulsion, of dressing up atrocities in verbiage, of obeying the chain of command – these instincts, forged during the IRA’s “war”, seem to die much harder than most of us could have imagined.”

‘What makes Sinn Féin’s flesh creep and its stomach heave?’

 ‘The alleged attacker of Maíria Cahill was ordered into exile by the IRA. So was the alleged attacker of Paudie McGahon.’ Above, BBC Northern Ireland ‘Spotlight’ reporter, Jennifer O’Leary interviewing Paudie McGahon. Photograph: BBC Northern Ireland

Sinn Féin has managed another kind of exiling – its past is another country

‘Official policy is now (blindly and inadvertently) driving us towards effective segregation.’ Photograph: Getty Images

‘The Irish Times revealed recently that 80 per cent of immigrant children are already concentrated in just 23 per cent of primary (...)

‘The Constitutional Convention’s  expert advisory group did sterling work. Over 2,500 civil society groups and individuals made submissions. And the citizen members impressed everyone by their diligence, seriousness and open-mindedness.’ Above, voting taking place at the Constitutional Convention  meeting in Malahide, Co Dublin in 2013. Photograph: Eric Luke / THE IRISH TIMES

‘All it’s really done is to polish up the sign on the gates of institutional democracy: abandon hope all ye that enter here’

Never had it easy: it took Eimear McBride nearly a decade to get A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing into print

‘The Irish Times’ is publishing a poster of Irish women writers as a rebuke to the familiar men-only Irish Writers version. It’s a(...)

Cultivating American audiences: Frank O’Connor on the CBS arts programme Camera Three in 1958. Photograph: CBS via Getty

The Cork writer’s stark story compresses into a small frame the bitter truth of conflicts everywhere: if you get to know someone, (...)

‘In the real world, real children are raised by lots of people doing their limited best – men and women, parents and grandparents, minders and teachers, friends and neighbours.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Such a message should be countered by ‘Hello Reality’ – the 30,000 men who bring up children

Photograph:  © UK Government Art Collection

The society portraitist’s depiction of the moment Roger Casement was sentenced to death shows two countries’ opposed but intertwin(...)

‘The last point about article 41 is that it is paranoid. This may indeed be the most interesting thing about it. Those who oppose same-sex marriage imagine a lost holy Catholic Ireland in which “the family” was perfectly secure until nasty liberals came along and started to undermine it. Yet if you actually read article 41, you will find its tone already imbued with portents of doom: the State pledges not just to support marriage but to “protect it against attack”.’ Photograph: Alan Betson / THE IRISH TIMES

Article 41 of the Constitution, dealing with ‘The Family’, is nothing more than the rhetorical cover for a cruel, hypocritical, se(...)

Tomás Ó Criomhthain: keen-eyed, romantic vision

The fisherman’s account of life on Great Blasket is a milestone in Irish-language literature

‘In a way, what’s happening in Europe right now is another round in a battle that’s been raging since telescopes were pointed at the skies – the battle between science and religion. The true believers know in their hearts that Hell awaits us if we depart from the path of financial righteousness. Those who believe the evidence are heretics. Angela Merkel (left) is the pope; Alex Tsipras is Galileo.  Photograph: Louisa Gouliamaki Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images

‘Those who believe the evidence are heretics. Angela Merkel is the pope; Alex Tsipras is Galileo’

Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Inspired by the Ardagh Chalice, the Sam Maguire Cup is the holy grail of Gaelic football. Could its lineage stretch back to the re(...)

‘The mindset that produced Michael Noonan’s “affordable and repayable” debt is one in which Ireland’s determination to be “very good” contrasts favourably with Greece’s propensity to be very bad’ Above,  Michael Noonan, Minister for Finance. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

‘Last year, Greece paid €8 billion to service debts of €315 billion. Last year too, Ireland paid €7.5 billion to service debts of (...)

‘Collateral damage is a by-product of what you target. And the damage to a generation of children is an inevitable result of the target chosen by those who govern us.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Austerity is a form of child abuse visited on the most vulnerable in society

Treated like beasts: prisoners working in the crematorium at Dachau concentration camp, which Erwin Strunz avoided with the help of Hubert Butler and his wife, Peggy Guthrie. Photograph: LAPI/Roger Viollet/Getty

As we mark Holocaust Memorial Day, it’s worth remembering that what our great essayist did was illegal – not just in Nazi Europe (...)

Early production: The Plough and the Stars at the Abbey Theatre  in Dublin in 1942. Photograph: Haywood Magee/Picture Post/Hulton/Getty

Audiences expected a play about liberation; what they got was a scabrous, unromanticised depiction of the Rising’s failings

‘We are a “northern European country” – Greece is “down there”, like the naughty bits we don’t like to talk about. But after Sunday, we may have to talk about them after all.’ Above, Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Syriza Party. Photographer: Kostas Tsironis/Bloomberg

Recklessness is not confined to the far left – the euro zone’s orthodoxy has been demonstrably reckless

A Muslim protester holds a placard reading “Islam” and another one holds one reading “For peace and against terrorism” during a demonstration outside Atocha Station in Madrid against the recent Paris Charlie Hebdo attacks . Photograph: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

Saudi Arabia has spent $100 billion in recent decades spreading an extremist ideology

Detail from  Eve of St Agnes stained glass window by Harry Clarke. Photograph courtesy of The Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin

Artist’s imaginative stained glass transcends the straitened State from which it sprang

‘The new party is a solution in search of problems – or at least of problems that can be can be addressed with right-wing policies that don’t appear to be too right-wing. Thus Eddie Hobbs (right) is from Mars and Lucinda Creighton is from Venus.’  Above, Hobbs and Creighton with   John Leahy (left) at the launch of  the party in Dublin. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Eddie Hobbs is from Mars and Lucinda Creighton is from Venus, hence the fuzziness of their new party’s agenda on everything from (...)

Detail from ‘Decoration’ which draws on traditional images of the madonna and child

A modernist take on old religious themes pointed the way to Jellett’s acceptance

Illustration: Oscar Scotellaro/Getty

Budget cuts have left some of Ireland’s national cultural institutions on the brink of collapse. Now the people most affected need(...)

A protester holds a Tricolour aloft outside Government Buildings as the Cabinet discussed a financial bailout from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union. Photograph: Dara MacDónaill/The Irish Times

Receding prospect of €64bn taxpayers put into banks being managed at European level

Lisa Dwan’s series of performances was startling

Literary society: James Joyce with Sylvia Beach of Shakespeare & Co, who first published Ulysses (far right), and her fellow publisher and writer Adrienne Monnier. Photograph: Gisele Freund/Time & Life pictures/Getty Images

James Joyce showed that universal experiences were to be found, not with gods or heroes, but in mundane urban lives

“But I don’t forget the knitted circus. There was the fat ringmaster in his scarlet coat.” Photograph: Dara MacDónaill/The Irish Times

Why I could never forget the year of that knitted circus and the hands that made it

Economic Management Council epitomises failure of ‘democratic revolution’

Staging: Barry Jackson’s production of Back to Methuselah at the Court, in London, with Colin Keith Johnson as Adam, Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies as Eve and Edith Evans as the serpent, in 1924. Photograph: Getty

Shaw’s vast cycle of plays, a combination of ‘creative evolution’ and satire, predicted that the ‘war to end wars’ would be merely(...)

The evidence from last week’s Irish Times poll is that so far the 30 per cent of the electorate that intends to vote for Independents is driven more by disgust than by hope.  Photograph: Reuters

‘What’s needed is a genuine bottom-up movement that is a means for citizens to take back their democracy’

Museum piece: Derrynane, by Jack B Yeats. Photograph courtesy of Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum/Quinnipiac University

Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum in Connecticut is facing up to challenge of commemorating the Famine in a manner that is empowerin(...)

 The Lobster Fisherman at Dusk,  by Paul Henry. Photograph courtesy of adams.ie

Paul Henry’s calm portrait captures the challenge Irish artists faced in combining modernism and nationalism

‘According to Jan O’Sullivan last week, I preach “that all Irish people are venal and corrupt”.’ Photograph: Cyril Byrne

‘What does create negativity and cynicism is promising change and then shoring up the status quo’

The signing of peace: Orpen’s subjects included President Woodrow Wilson, the French prime minister, Georges Clemenceau, and the British prime minister, David Lloyd George. Photograph: IWM via Getty

William Orpen’s great painting is a work of supreme ambivalence, both memorialising and questioning the first World War and what w(...)

‘Where projects are already part of the exam system, they are supposed to be all the pupil’s very own work. Sometimes they are. Some pupils and their families and their teachers are ruthless and scrupulous.And sometimes they’re not.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Fintan O'Toole: ‘52 per cent of the youngest teachers are in temporary jobs. And how do you get a permanent job? By marking your s(...)

Pádraic Ó Conaire: a complex, subtle and far from crudely heroic response to 1916

Pádraic Ó Conaire’s collection of stories set around the Easter Rising made an important statement: artists would deal with the ne(...)

Ken Whitaker age 97 at  his home on Stillorgan Road earlier this year. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Opinion: In 92 years, Ireland has seen no more than four ambitious projects for radical change

Photograph courtesy of Dublin City Gallery the Hugh Lane

Seán Keating’s Rising-themed painting places the men of 1916 in a heroic pose

‘Who, can form the next government? Even the failsafe option of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil forming their natural coalition is no longer a certainty. The European and local elections show the two parties between them now commanding a minority of votes. And what are the other options?’ Above,  Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the count centre for the European elections in Castlebar, Co Mayo earlier this year. Photograph: Keith Heneghan

Opinion: What we are seeing are the signs of a slow slide towards an ungovernable State

Photograph: Robert Kirk/PD/Getty

The National Museum of Ireland is being forced to consider charging for entry. Can no areas of life be recognised as priceless?

Contender: part of Into the West of Ireland, by Paul Henry. Photograph courtesy of the National Gallery of Ireland

‘Modern Ireland in 100 Artworks’ is a new series on key pieces of art and literature from 1916 to today. Here, Fintan O’Toole intr(...)

Artist in exile: James Joyce in Zurich around 1918, shortly after he finished the book. Photograph: C Ruf/Archive Photos/Getty

James Joyce’s first novel, published not in Dublin but in New York and London, is an intensely Irish book

‘The public revolt against water charges is not, for the most part, a rebellion against the eminently sensible idea that a small State should have a single public utility to develop its water system.’ Above,  water charge protesters  in Crumlin, Dublin on Saturday  as part of the national water charge protest. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Opinion: The public revolt against water charges is about injustice, and it’s justified

 Pádraig MacLochlainn put it most touchingly: “I know the character of Gerry Adams and I absolutely believe him.” It’s that “absolutely” that should alert those of us outside the party that we are in the realms of pure truthiness.  Photograph:  Collins

For Sinn Féin’s leaders, things that appear incompatible can be resolved

Gerry Adams (centre)  with Sinn Féin TDs Mary Lou McDonald and Pearse Doherty. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/ Collins

Opinion: SF wouldn’t tolerate evasive answers from other party leaders

‘By Stiglitz’s measures – how long it takes for recovery to happen and how extensive is the damage caused in the meantime – the success of the twin-track policy of feeding dead banks and starving public services for the most vulnerable is not at all obvious.’ Photograph: Getty Images

‘Given that a recovery was always going to happen, it has been a long time coming. And the damage done is profound: €200 billion o(...)

No broadcast: the Met’s revival of The Death of Klinghoffer, by John Adams. Photograph: Richard Hubert Smith/Metropolitan Opera

With ‘The Death of Klinghoffer’ and Brett Bailey’s installation, the Metropolitan Opera and the Barbican have censored themselves (...)

‘When Phil Hogan sends the CVs of constituents to Irish Water, do they actually get jobs? He himself laughed off the very notion last week. So why does he do it? Because the charade satisfies some deep mutual need – for his constituents to feel that they have “pull” and for Hogan to be Big Phil, the local chieftain who can deliver the goods to his people.’  Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

Opinion: Our machine politics is fuelled by the belief (often erroneous) that votes are exchange commodities, given in return for (...)

Now hiring: last year’s advertisement for candidates

After the John McNulty debacle at Imma, we need to close some of the loopholes in the way board members are appointed

‘The Taoiseach told the public one day that the decision to appoint McNulty was made by Heather  Humphreys (above); the next day that he alone was responsible.’ Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

Opinion: ‘The big issue is that there are standards that should apply to every office-holder’

Donation: the late Seamus Heaney and his wife, Marie, at the National Library of Ireland in 2011, when he gave his archive to the institution. Bryan O’Brien

These precious institutions came from a 19th-century optimism about the spread of literacy and enlightenment. Now nobody with any (...)

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys who refused to answer questions in the Seanad about  Mr McNulty’s appointment.

Analysis: The sheer extent to which old politics has been given a new life is remarkable

‘Last year, the outgoing financial regulator Matthew Elderfield warned that the State still has no adequate system for tackling financial offences’. Photograph: Getty Images

Opinion: Ireland is still one of the best little countries in the world in which to be a shyster

We might think of him as a seanchaí who had come down from a mountain and been transplanted to Dublin with his stories intact, but(...)

Members of  King of Scots Robert the Bruce Society, hold the Scottish flags as they prepare to vote in the Scottish independence referendum   in Loch Lomond. “The Scots have already sent a message: the current political settlement of strong oligarchies and weak democracies cannot stand.”   (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

The electorate has already sent a message: the current political settlement of strong oligarchies and weak democracies cannot stan(...)

Jaw-dropping: Lisa Dwan interprets Beckett

Lisa Dwan gives astonishing performances of ‘Not I’, ‘Footfalls’ and ‘Rockaby’

Ian Paisley at a rally on Royal Avenue outside Belfast City Hall in 1974. “Paisley the politician defeated Paisley the preacher.” Photograph: Trevor McBride

Bigoted yet brilliant, Paisley had to move away from a world of absolutes

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