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Eamon Ryan’s career a lesson in how sincere politicians can succeed in setting the agenda

Why the Aer Lingus strike is not an opportunity for Ryanair; the casual disregard of the European Parliament; and the dramatic changes in news consumption

In his resignation speech, Eamon Ryan, who has led the Green Party since 2011, said politics has become too demanding, too 'divisive'. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

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

All political careers end in failure. Like all the best political clichés, this one is pithy, overworked – and wrong. Take Eamon Ryan.

So begins our editorial on the resignation of the Green Party leader. His 30-year career in national politics, the piece argues, is a lesson in how small parties - and sincere, serious-minded politicians - can succeed in setting the agenda and having something to show for the time in power, however circumscribed that power might be.

In his resignation speech, Ryan, who has led the Green Party since 2011, said politics has become too demanding, too “divisive”. He spoke of “vile attacks” on social media. In a wide-ranging interview this weekend, he speaks to Harry McGee about some of those attacks, including a particularly “nasty” one following his father’s death.


Ryan’s successor – either Roderic O’Gorman or Pippa Hackett - will be chosen by party members in three weeks’ time. Regardless of who takes over, the challenges will be the same. And they are not confined to the Irish Green Party. In this in-depth piece of the state of green politics, Harry reminds us that the green wave receded across Europe this month, the green group losing 20 of its seats in the European Parliament.

A more general question is this: how will Ryan’s departure, coming just a few months after the resignation of Leo Varadkar, affect the Government as it enters its final stretch? Pat Leahy looks at what comes next for the Coalition.

Aer Lingus was the other big story this week. On Friday the airline began informing passengers about its more than 215 planned cancellations as it prepares to face industrial action by its pilots beginning on Wednesday. This action will include an 8-hour strike on Saturday, June 29th.

Aer Lingus says thousands of customers per day and about 35,000 overall are due to be affected. If you are one of them, Conor Pope sets out your rights and entitlements.

In theory, Aer Lingus’s difficulty should be Ryanair’s opportunity, as it is well-placed to offer discommoded Aer Lingus passengers an alternative. You might expect Michael O’Leary to be rubbing his hands at the prospect of a prolonged industrial action by Aer Lingus pilots over the key summer months.

However, as John McManus argued earlier this week, the Ryanair boss is not revelling in the idea of a strike at the rival airline; and there’s no real mystery about his motivation.

While the Hutch-Kinahan feud has largely subsided, we are still living in its long aftermath. On Wednesday, a High Court judge found that a member of the Hutch organised crime gang, James ‘Mago’ Gately, and his partner had subsidised their “exotic” lifestyle with the proceeds of crime. Security and Crime Editor Conor Lally profiles the gangster the Kinahans couldn’t kill.

While the posters are gone and the counts completed, the European elections continue to interest our readers. The most read article by subscribers this week was Kathy Sherdian’s column suggesting that Nina Carberry’s vanishing act is a sign of casual disregard for the European Parliament. As she points out, the parliament is an increasingly powerful institution where a big share of our laws and regulations originate, yet still some seem to regard it as expensive training wheels for aspiring politicians or the domestically inexperienced.

The Irish football fan can enjoy the European Championships in Germany without the stress and pain of having to follow the national team. And there’s plenty to enjoy in the coverage of the tournament. You don’t have to be a soccer fan to appreciate Ken Early’s column on the state of Germany’s rail network. The situation, Ken writes, is a textbook case of neoliberal capitalism digesting its own supporting structures.

Like so many others, I read and admired Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland, an acclaimed novel set in New York’s cricket scene. To mark the publication of his first book in a decade, Keith Duggan met O’Neill at his home in Brooklyn to talk about his Irish origins, his love of Manchester United, his fear for the United States under Trump and the fading status of the novelist in American culture.

One of our most-read articles this week was a fine column by Laura Slattery on terrestrial television, the AI revolution, the future of media - and a viral clip of a hungry RTÉ reporter, Paschal Sheehy, at an interminable election count earlier this month. As Laura notes in the piece, the dramatic changes in news consumption are captured in the Reuters Digital News Report 2024, which was published this week.

The report notes that for the first time, more people (33 per cent) are consuming news from digital sources (excluding social media) than television (31 per cent).

While trust in some news outlets has dipped slightly, it has risen for The Irish Times (+2 percentage points) and RTÉ (+1 point) over the last 12 months. These are the two most trusted news outlets in Ireland.

The report also notes an increase (to 17 per cent) in the number of people who paid to access online news, a sharp (+7 percentage points) rise in the number of 18-24 year-olds paying for digital journalism.

Among Irish residents who pay a regular subscription to a news provider, The Irish Times remains the most popular choice, accounting for 38 per cent of all subscriptions.

We’re encouraged by these trends. We know there is a large and growing audience willing to pay for original, fair-minded, high-quality news produced by reporters and editors who, like us, are not beholden to any commercial or political interests. Your support makes it possible for us to produce journalism of the highest standard, and we’re grateful for it.

Have a good weekend,

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic


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