‘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

So the crisis is over – now when does the cruelty stop? When does the petty, mean-spirited and nasty infliction of pain on people who already have (...)

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

Earlier this year, when critics raised questions about the historical accuracy of Morten Tyldum’s film The Imitation Game, in which Benedict Cumberbat(...)

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

Éamon de Valera, who came to power in the Irish Free State in 1932, always understood the power of his status as the senior surviving leader of the Ea(...)

‘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

Here’s a question with two radically different answers: did this State ever work? One answer would be resoundingly positive: the State did a remarkabl(...)

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

While WB Yeats was mythologising the ascendancy world of the big house in The Winding Stair, in 1933, Molly Keane was busy demythologising it. As so o(...)

“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.”

There are two things you need to know about a political party that wants to take power. One is what it will do. The other is what it would never do. T(...)

William Butler Yeats: inventing traditions. Photograph: National Library of Ireland

In Remorse for Intemperate Speech, one of the most often quoted poems from his 1933 volume The Winding Stair, William Butler Yeats accuses himself (...)

 ‘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

In recent Irish history, just two bodies have had the power to order a citizen into exile. No government, no court of law, no official body, however p(...)

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

Ireland is dis-integrating. A decade ago, the challenge of integrating an unprecedented wave of migrant families loomed large on the official policy a(...)

‘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

Politicians often complain about public cynicism and usually blame the media for it. But the nabobs of negativity have nothing on the political system(...)