Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the National Rifle Association convention, Friday, May 20th, 2016, in Louisville, Kentucky. Photograph: Mark Humphrey

White House hopeful offers white working class magical thinking and chance to get even

“If you mention inheritance tax in print, as I have done in the past, you will be bombarded with sob stories about the current oppressive regime and about adult children being thrown out of the family home because they have to sell the house to pay the tax when their parent dies. Some of these stories are complete nonsense.” File photograph: John Giles/PA Wire

The Government has shown its true colours with its cynical inheritance tax stunt

Photograph: David Sleator

The report concludes with the deeply depressing words: “the commission considers that the institution of any disciplinary proceedi(...)

New literary style: Roddy Doyle around 1993. Photograph: Nutan/Gamma-Rapho via Getty

Roddy Doyle’s novel about a 10-year-old whose parents’ marriage is falling apart reveals the dark secret that the writer had been (...)

“It would be great to think that the new Government has had a Damascene conversion . . . But its programme reads like somebody blurting out awkward truths and then, appalled at the implications, shrinking back into silence.”  Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

‘Maybe we’ve just seen the greatest ideological reversal in Irish politics. I genuinely hope so’

Teacher and exile: Patrick McCabe in 2007. Photograph: Kate Geraghty

The former teacher’s dark masterpiece gives a disconcerting but compelling voice to the mistreated children who were Ireland’s dar(...)

‘Belief that governments can achieve positive social change has evaporated’

Untitled: Philippe VACHER was   filmed in an actual operating theatre, and  shows the French actor falling forward onto a surgical cart littered with medicine bottles and medical devices. Photograph © James Coleman

The influential Irish postwar multimedia artist played with our sense of time and reality

 Mick O’Dea’s portrait of Eamon de Valera. In Tom Murphy’s An Aspect of the Rising, the prostitute  works herself into erotic ecstasies by unleashing a torrent of blistering invective towards the Long Fellow. Photograph:  Nick Bradshaw

Ever since the seismic events of 1916 Irish artists have taken a nuanced view of events

“Instead of waving rifles or proclamations, we should proudly hold aloft our Form 11s.” Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Confidentiality of tax returns is unquestionable only because it is unquestioned

Going his own way: Paul Muldoon around the time of Madoc. Photograph: Frank Miller

The Co Armagh-born poet is arguably the first real Irish writer of globalisation

Corporate tax avoidance is now a huge political issue forcing the government to stand up to the corporations: President Obama’s effective blocking of the Pfizer/Allergan deal is a resonant moment. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

For ordinary Americans our foreign direct investment wheeze is too shady for comfort

“Abtran is a reputable, law- abiding and entirely legitimate operation. It is not using the BVI to evade tax; it pays its taxes in Ireland. It is quite upfront about the reasons why it is now owned by a BVI company: secrecy.”

The secrecy inherent in offshore is incompatible with democratic accountability

Taoiseach Enda Kenny  at Custom House Quay, Dublin. File photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

The party knew long before it drew up its manifesto that the new government would face fiscal issues

The playwright’s ambition was to create a theatre that was serious in its reflections on Northern Ireland’s political crisis, whil(...)

The former Christian Brothers industrial school at Letterfrack, Co Galway, where Peter Tyrrell was taken in 1924. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Commemorating Rising should not be at the cost of amnesia about the failure of its ideals

Fighting for his life: The Trial of Roger Casement, 1916, painted by John Lavery. Photograph:  Crown copyright/ UK Government art collection/Courtesy Royal Irish Academy

As Casement faced trial for treason in 1916, Shaw wrote a speech that he was convinced could turn the trial into a national dram(...)

Public voice: Paula Meehan in 2015. Photograph: Dave Meehan

The Dubliner grew up in the oral tradition of stories and singing – ‘a vivid, interesting and textured world’. However complex her(...)

Irish Volunteers and one Irish Citizen Army member inside the GPO 1916. Photograph: Defence Forces Military Archives, Cathal Brugha barracks www.militaryarchives.ie

On the second day of the Easter Rising, soldiers poured into Dublin, and martial law was declared

Mount Street Bridge, where one of the bloodiest  fights of the Easter 1916 Rising took place.  Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Mount Street battle erupts, an engagement in which 230 killed or wounded

Jacob’s Biscuit factory, Dublin at the time of the Easter Rising 1916. Photograph: Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

On Easter Monday 1916, the rebels seize key buildings across Dublin city centre

A cross which marks the place where James Connolly was executed, sitting in a chair, in the stonebreakers yard in Kilmainham Gaol yesterday. The other thirteen leaders of the rising were shot against the opposite wall. Photograph: Frank Miller

After a chaotic week, British commander Maxwell proceeds, against advice, with executions. Confusion over who is to die causes ups(...)

Soldiers inspect the interior of Dublin's General Post Office, viewing the complete destruction of the building after being shelled by the British during the Easter Rising 1916.   (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

On the last day of the 1916 Rising, the rebels are forced to surrender unconditionally and brought to Richmond Barracks, where t(...)

Martin Maloinowsk is among the familes facing notice to quit their homes in Tyrrelstown. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/PA

They may be on the same site, but it’s a hell of a long way from Boland’s Mills to Boland’s Quay

Writing Observe the Sons of Ulster was an eye-opener for Frank McGuinness, a Catholic republican

Frank McGuinness’s searing drama dared go into the minds of Northern loyalists who have made their own blood sacrifice in the tren(...)

Sigmund Freud had a name for the psychological mechanism that brings together visceral hatred and deep similarity. He called it “the narcissism of minor difference”. (Photo by Imagno/Getty Images)

Party needs to convince itself that the beautiful reflection it sees in the mirror is a real, and utterly unique, self

It would not be as dramatic as another Rising, but it would make those words on the tattered green flag - Irish Republic - more than a broken dream.

Can the business of forming a government actually be infused with reminders of what we wanted an independent government for?

The Baptism of St Patrick: Harry Clarke’s stained-glass art is deeply questioning. St Patrick is haggard and weary; the image seems to invite us to wonder about his anxiety and about what would come after him

Harry Clarke and Richard King created profoundly questioning work

Shelling: from GPO in Flames, by Norman Teeling. The paintings reproduced here are from his series The Rising, on show at the Oriel Gallery, Clare Street, Dublin 2; theoriel.com

As Trinity College became a barracks, fire wiped out the east side of O’Connell Street

We are not racist, stupid, greedy, lacking in moral direction, guilt ridden or chicken

As British forces storm O’Connell Street, Patrick Pearse orders rebels to evacuate

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.  Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

What we voted for is a profound shift of priorities, towards decent services, a fair use of public resources and a reversal of th(...)

Derek Mahon: the industrial world he grew up in was gradually disappearing. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

In this collection, as in much of the poet’s work, dreams of permanence give way to history’s merciless demand to leave everything(...)

Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

They now have one comfortable majority between them and if they don’t occupy that space together, it becomes a power vacuum.

British prime minister David Cameron. “The odd way in which the threat of a British exit makes the notion of Europe interesting again is actually quite familiar.” Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

Threat of Brexit may see union reconnect with its roots in positive side of fear

The Irish Times.Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / THE IRISH TIMES

For most of its period of office, the coalition told citizens that it was essentially powerless and only obeying orders

Friends since university: Eavan Boland and Mary Robinson at Trinity College Dublin, where they met in the 1960s. Photograph courtesy of Eavan Boland

Poet’s reclaiming of the reality of women’s experience was both important and thrilling

The Whitaker consensus: For my entire lifetime, the three pillars of that consensus have shaped Irish government.  Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Whoever gets into power after the election will run the country in much the same way

Donal McCann as Frank Hardy in the Abbey Theatre’s Irish premiere of Faith Healer by Brian Friel, directed by Joe Dowling, Abbey Theatre, 1980. Photograph: Fergus Bourke, courtesy of the Abbey Theatre

Brian Friel wrote three superb plays in an astonishing two-year burst of activity. ‘Faith Healer’ was the least well received but (...)

Mount Rushmore: Abraham Lincoln may pass muster, but Thomas Jefferson (slave owner), George Washington (slave owner) and Theodore Roosevelt (white supremacist and imperialist) do not. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty

Statues of old white guys are being removed, vandalised or campaigned against. The problem with the new iconoclasm is knowing wher(...)

This fecklessness matters. It means that ministers can get away with pretty much anything. Photograph: Alan Betson

Elected with a huge mandate for radical democratic change, it lapsed into collective indifference and impotence

Sarah Palin and Donald Trump: if the Republican candidate is elected president, the US could lurch towards a weird mixture of unilateralism (kick their asses and ask questions later) and isolationism (withdrawing into a nativist fantasy world with no Mexicans, no Muslims and no international obligations). Photograph: Mark Kauzlarich

A lack of political authority due to spiraling inequality is the common thread

“Nearly 20 years ago, I went to the Project Arts Centre in Dublin to see a play called Ladies and Gentlemen by Emma Donoghue, who now has an Oscar nomination for adapting her superb novel, Room. The play wasn’t all that good.” Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

The glamorous stuff that gives the nation a lift is a byproduct of a messy, dynamic creative ecosystem full of knowns and unknow(...)

“Other than broad allegations of threats to his safety, we do not know what David Drumm has experienced in prison. But we do know that the US prison system is a disgrace to a civilised country”.

Government has a duty to ensure that citizens who have not been convicted are spared the horrors of US prison system

‘The shock of that famous appearance on Top of the Pops in 1972 wasn’t just the visual weirdness or the playing with homosexuality. There was something deeper and more disturbing going on - the shapeshifter beaming into our living rooms.’

As geniuses tend to do, he anticipated what was coming in the virtual world

Hugely admired: Seamus Heaney in the 1970s. Photograph: Jack McManus

In the poet’s most direct response to the Troubles in his native Northern Ireland, the past is alive with an atavistic violence t(...)

A photograph from The Irish Times property supplement of November 25th 2004  of a  field on the Knocklofty Road in Newcastle, County Tipperary. The sign says: “For Sale: Land Zoned Residential”.

Time and again, local people protested against development on flood plains

The Dublin-born writer found fame in New York, but her best stories are set in Ireland

Phil Lynott performing on stage in 1976. Photograph: Evening Standard/Getty Images

In this piece, originally published in Magill magazine in January 1986 in the wake of Phil Lynott’s death, Fintan O’Toole recalls (...)

Last time our ruling class thought there was some kind of historic karma at work - Irish developers flying around in his and hers helicopters was payback for the Great Hunger. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Dame Fortune has given us another chance to build a real republic

“In some ways they’re like passengers who have walked away from a car crash, the awful shock buffered by the joy of survival. The sad thing, of course, is that so many of them have indeed walked way”

The rug was pulled from under them but they gradually found their feet

I’m not sure we learn anything from the arts – except that we need them more than ever

Set for the stage: Pamela Mant and Dearbhla Molly prepare for the opening night of Da, by Hugh Leonard, at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin in 1973. Photograph: Kevin McMahon

The Dublin playwright, himself an embodiment of upward mobility, brilliantly captured the comedy and melancholy of new money

The Government knows that, unlike Willie Loman in ‘Death of a Salesman’, it is not well-liked. It is supported, broadly, by a large chunk of the population. But there’s very little affection for it. Photograph: Keystone Features/Getty Images

Even an existential crisis has not disturbed the distribution of privilege or caused failed institutions and practices to be swept(...)

RTÉ Investigates: Hugh McElvaney went so far as to claim it was he who lured the broadcaster into his trap

Councillors filmed by RTÉ seeking financial rewards for help with planning have been confident and combative since the broadcast. (...)

Fintan O’Toole: “I thought perhaps JG Farrell might have been excluded on the basis that he was half-Irish, but so was Laurence Sterne, and Elizabeth Bowen, CS Lewis, Joyce Cary, Jonathan Swift and Iris Murdoch, none of whom was British, got in. Puzzling”

The Irish Times literary editor was one of 82 foreigners polled by the BBC to choose the 100 best British novels. Read how he got (...)

There is only one way to root out corruption and that is to have an independent, properly resourced anti-corruption body with full police powers. Photograph: Getty Images

Proposed watchdog’s independence from politics completely stripped away

Brian Clough: “We’ve done it as I assume everybody wants to do their job: nicely, honourably and well.”   (AP Photo/PA)

The idea that talented people need to be incentivised to work to the best of their abilities by obscene salaries and bonuses is to(...)

Both an insider and an outsider: JG Farrell at his home in London in 1978. Photograph: Jane Bown

The fall of the British Empire is expressed as dark comedy in this resonant novel

 Fine Gael leader Dr Garret FitzGerald (right) and Mr John Bruton, TD, FG, spokesman on finance promised reform of the budget process in 1981. Photograph: Pat Langan

The level of engagement the Houses of the Oireachtas in the budgetary process is the lowest observed in any OECD country

Domhnall Gleeson and Saoirse Ronan in ‘Brooklyn’: Ronan makes Eilis so alive to every moment that we understand completely how she gets caught up in them

‘Brooklyn’, ‘Room’ and ‘The Secret Scripture’ all have unapologetically literary sources

Paris will be the same. Terrorist atrocities change forever the lives of the bereaved and the survivors. They do not change the lives of big cities.  (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Making sweeping statements about the Paris attacks puffs up their lethal vanity

“I assumed that the raging energies of curiosity and sensation would be kept in check here. What’s happened to Pat Carey over the last week shows that I was wrong.” Photograph: Alan Betson / THE IRISH TIMES

What happened to to Pat Carey shows that our tradition of restraint has faded

Thursday’s  Waking The Feminists event at the Abbey Theatre, which highlighted the lack of gender equality in the Abbey’s programme of events for 2016. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

The relationships between the Abbey Theatre, the Government and the Arts Council show plenty that’s wrong with arts governance in (...)

Attorney General Máire Whelan: The Fennelly report raised very serious questions about her judgment. She gave seriously inconsistent evidence to the inquiry. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

A common thread is the pretence the AG is a special creature above politics

La Misère à Dublin - Le Mirroir . Image Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

Perhaps the Georgian tenements were better than today’s homelessness

Travellers provide negative reassurance that a culture deeply shaped by mass migration, and utterly neurotic about its sense of home, is “settled”. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons.

Travellers are hated because they don’t share Irish society’s great article of faith: that without a house you’re nothing

A house on Captains Road, Crumlin. Crumlin was built by the local authority, Dublin Corporation, with funding from the central government in the 1930s.

Why could State build housing in hungry 1930s and postwar 1940s but not now?

Poor Pearse Doherty, utterly defeated, meekly withdrew his proposal for an analysis of the impact of the Budget

Neither before nor after the budget will Michael Noonan produce even a basic analysis of whether his measures as a whole are progr(...)

Singer  Van Morrison. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Singer distances himself from civil action taken by wife over views from property

Unheralded leaders of the Rising take their places alongside Pearse, Connolly and Plunkett

John McGahern: lost his Clontarf teaching post. Photograph: Patrick Gregory

Official Ireland approved of McGahern’s mesmerising debut novel, based on his upbringing in a Roscommon Garda barracks. The bannin(...)

The Game: Theatreclub’s scarifying exploration of prostitution takes an avant-garde cliche and  makes it terrifyingly real.  Photograph: Fiona Morgan

If the Dublin Theatre Festival takes the pulse of Irish theatre, this year’s suggests that the life of the Irish literary play is (...)

Still waiting . James Reilly at a 2011 press conference committed to abolishing the HSE by 2016 and delivering a Dutch style universal health insurance system.Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / THE IRISH TIMES

Where’s the evidence that the Government can actually do big things?

 Brian Friel at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Playwright’s language will ring out around the world for as long as theatre survives

Portrait of the artist: Brian Friel in one of Colin Davidson’s portraits of the late playwright

For the late playwright the past and our images of it were slippery and treacherous. Truth lay not in public facts but in private (...)

Deep in thought: Brian Friel in Dublin in 1980, at the Gate Theatre opening of his play Translations. Photograph: Tom Lawlor

The late playwright did not like to be interviewed, and eventually he gave it up altogether. But he did give this rare interview t(...)

"The sleight-of-hand is more Tommy Cooper than Penn and Teller". Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Minister for Finance Michael Noonan. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

The top 10% pay 29% of their incomes in tax. The bottom 10% pay 28%

The cast of the 2001 production of Tom Murphy’s A Whistle in the Dark at the Abbey Theatre

Tom Murphy’s searing indictment of a distorted Irish masculinity was in the great tradition of Synge and O’Casey – telling Ireland(...)

The key to this extreme inequality, even by the miserable standards of the contemporary world, is education.

People with inadequate education suffer in pretty much every economy. But they suffer much, much worse in the State.

‘Unlike most of the other unknown knowns, the doublethink on abortion is fully institutionalised. It’s written into law. On the one hand, a woman has a constitutional right to travel abroad to get an abortion. On the other, if she performs the very same act in Ireland she and her doctor and anyone who has helped her are all liable to 14 years in prison.’ Photograph: Getty Images

‘We all owe a debt to Róisín Ingle and Tara Flynn who have written so honestly about their experiences of having abortions’

 Charlie Kelleher and Tom Vesey  in ‘Sive’ by John B Keane. Photograph: Dermot Barry

The Co Kerry playwright’s mix of melodrama and myth was a cocktail so powerful that it blew the head off a country that was tired (...)

‘It’s a pity that the discussion of the Fennelly report has focused so much on the mysteries of the Taoiseach’s behaviour.’ Above, Mr Justice Nial Fennelly.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne

‘The stroke demands bad administration – no records, no clarity, no actual relationship between supposed cause (the taping) and d(...)

Graffiti in Brazil depicting the drowned Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi. It reads: “Peace, abandoned”. Photograph: Paulo Whitaker/Reuters

‘A Europe that turns its face against the plight of the refugees is a Europe that is killing itself’

Production crew and sets on Skellig Michael to film Star Wars Episode VII, last year. Photograph Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

When monks founded their settlement on Skellig Michael they were literally going to extremes

Van Morrison from the cover shoot for his album Moondance. Photograph: Elliott Landy/Rhino

After 50 years in the music business Van Morrison – born in Belfast 70 years ago, on August 31st, 1945 – has no game to play, no i(...)

Island life: inside the cottage on Achill where Heinrich Böll stayed. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

In his quirky, incisive account of life on Achill, Heinrich Böll celebrated the consoling power of a simple life on the edge of Eu(...)

‘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 (...)

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