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IT Sunday: A historic week on multiple fronts

An escalation in Russia’s war, the funeral of Britain’s queen and historic NI census results

Welcome to this week’s IT Sunday, a selection of the best Irish Times journalism for our subscribers.

In a week that saw a significant escalation of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the funeral of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, a march against the rising cost of living in Dublin, and historic census results in Northern Ireland, Justine McCarthy writes that it is time for President Michael D Higgins to address the Oireachtas.

“As a candidate in the 2018 presidential election campaign, Higgins was challenged about why he did not address the Houses of the Oireachtas during his first term of office. He indicated he would do so in his second term. Now, more than halfway through his final tenure, one wonders why he continues to wait,” McCarthy writes.

As we approach budget day this coming week, Fintan O’Toole asks when will Ireland be honest about how the State pays for itself. He says taxes on wealth account for only about 6 per cent of Government revenue, meaning younger and less wealthy people have to pay a higher proportion of tax. “It seems quite clear that Fine Gael wants to keep it that way,” O’Toole argues.


Meanwhile, David McWilliams analyses the state of the Irish economy, concluding that the standard of living in Ireland is high relative to our peers, and our tax and welfare systems are “highly progressive”. However, he writes, “the big problem is housing. Unless Ireland faces down property interests and builds tens of thousands of homes at every price range, then all the good work will come to nowt.”

The Government’s plans for the State pension will be welcomed by many; but are politicians and their voters ignoring the wider issue of social solidarity when it comes to funding the move? That’s the question asked by Diarmaid Ferriter on the issue this week, as he points out the burden that the proposals will place upon a younger generation. “When it comes to the “expectation of certainty” they are already severely disadvantaged and can surely be forgiven for castigating this country as no country for young people,” he writes.

For people paying a mortgage, news of interest rate hikes by the European Central Bank will be familiar, after a recent announcement of a historic rise of 0.75 of a percentage point followed a 0.5 point jump in July. But comments from ECB president Christine Lagarde have made it clear that more is to follow. And quickly. In his latest Smart Money column, Cliff Taylor asks key questions about what happens next for mortgage holders, including those on tracker rates, new borrowers and switchers.

For those seeking to purchase a property, Fiona Reddan writes that being mortgage-ready is now more important than ever. In this informative piece, she guides prospective property buyers through some of the main elements of the process, from approval in principal and what estate agents expect, to what you need to know about mortgage rules. Separately, if you’re curious about Government schemes that aim to help make a new home more affordable, Jessica Doyle has this guide to the help-to-buy incentive, the first-home scheme and local-authority loans.

Finn McRedmond this week explored the role of the monarchy in people’s lives, in the light of declining religiosity. Even in a secular society, the devotion to symbols — and the need to belong — does not go away, but is replaced. Commenting on the vast crowds attending the funeral and surrounding events of Queen Elizabeth II, McRedmond writes: “In lieu of a public faith, people need somewhere to direct their desires for the ephemeral and the universal. And we have seen exactly that in London over the past week.”

In her latest restaurant review, Corinna Hardgrave visited a light-filled former pub in Newbridge, Co Kildare. Dubh, which serves food that feels modern yet accessible to the Irish Times food critic, earns four stars and a favourable verdict: “The perfect neighbourhood restaurant.”

Many of us will be only too familiar with stress, or how we react when we feel under pressure or threatened, perhaps in a situation that seems out of our control. However, not all stress is bad. In the latest article in her How To series, Joanne Hunt examines stress and how we can go about managing it. Step 1 — question the narrative.

As always, there is much more on, including the latest rundowns of all the latest movies in our film reviews, tips for the best restaurants in our food section and all the latest in sport. There are plenty more articles exclusively available for Irish Times subscribers here.

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