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IT Sunday: Two economic worlds: Ireland is in a state of fragile equilibrium

The week’s top stories for subscribers: from Grand Slam analysis and the economy, to restaurants and parenting advice

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

In economic language, Ireland appears to be in a state of fragile equilibrium. That is according to David McWilliams, who opens his weekend column by observing that there are two economic worlds in Ireland: on almost every economic metric, Ireland has pulled ahead of our peers and yet many people are not feeling it. “Although wealthy, Ireland feels completely different from most other wealthy countries,” writes McWilliams. “In our commuting life, the daily grind from home to work is a hassle, homes are jerry-built, hugely expensive and second-rate, bottlenecks and holdups characterise much of our regular experience. If the economy appears to be straining at the leash, that is because it is.”

Staying in the realm of finances, Finn McRedmond wrote about her generation’s financial circumstances during the week, after Holly Cairns – in her First Dáil contribution as leader of the Social Democrats – said “I’m a member of the first ever generation who will be worse off than my parents”. This remark, McRedmond says, was an astute one, given how gloomy dispositions are in vogue: “Woe betide anyone who suggests that we might lighten up. This self-pitying gloominess is not just overdone, it is straightforwardly defeatist. Even if Cairns is right, and our financial circumstances are worse than our parents, the young in society have still reaped huge benefits from modernity.”

Elsewhere, Cliff Taylor this week examined electricity bills, and why Irish households may not see a reduction in their bill amounts any time soon, even as ESB doubles its profits. Read his analysis here.


Twenty years on from the invasion of Iraq, Fintan O’Toole is reflecting on what he labels one of the founding disasters of 21st century politics. As journalists around the world look back at the event, they have much to say about the catastrophic failures of politicians and spies at the time, says O’Toole: “We’ve had less to say about the third part of the unholy trinity that created the disaster: bad journalism.” Read it here: How journalists were complicit in one of the great con jobs of modern times.

The final weekend of this year’s Six Nations saw Ireland secure a historic Grand Slam victory in Dublin last weekend. Unsurprisingly, the victory triggered celebration, reflection and much celebratory output in print: here, our team of sports journalists gave their verdicts on the competition as a whole, including choices for the best game, best player and best try of the championship. The final match in Dublin gave record-breaking captain Johnny Sexton his perfect Six Nations sign off; it’s worth reliving the moment via Gerry Thornley’s match report here, and you can find John O’Sullivans’s Ireland squad player ratings here. The team’s progression (and the manager orchestrating it) even seems to have thawed Fintan O’Toole’s long-standing aversion to the sport.

From rugby to restaurants: Corinna Hardgrave visited Cork for her latest review, where she experienced one of the best and most expensive meals she’s ever eaten. The restaurant was Terre, and the verdict was a positive one: “Exquisite food and a unique experience.” Dinner for two with two glasses of champagne and a bottle of wine came to €491. Read more here.

“My 12-year-old daughter used to happily belong to a friendship group of five other girls. Over the past few weeks they seem to have dropped her and it is breaking her heart.” So begins a query to John Sharry from a parent seeking advice on helping a child through a tough time. Read the response here. Another parenting piece catching readers’ attention this week concerned the freedoms that parents should afford their tweens. Written by Jen Hogan, you can find it here: What exactly should our children be allowed to do?

Finally, in an exclusive interview with Malachy Clerkin, celebrated jockey Bryan Cooper speaks about his fear of falling and making the decision to retire at the age of 30: “The injuries have taken their toll, they’ve caught up with me and I can’t go on doing it. But I don’t want it to take away from the career I had. I achieved everything I wanted to, I had a career that 95 per cent of jockeys would have had as a childhood dream. This is for my own wellbeing. I have to do this.”

As always, there is much more on, including 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.