Margaret Cash with six of her seven children. Margaret Cash and her family are very real people, but they are also ghosts haunting Irish Catholicism.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Church’s failure to embrace Margaret Cash is at odds with their teaching

Why do we spend enough money to have a first-class health service but end up with waiting lists that will top a million patients this year? Photograph: Pierre Andrieu/AFP/Getty Images

The Republic is a rich, young, stable country. So why is it so dysfunctional?

Poolbeg power station, its towers just visible above heavy coastal fog in Dublin Bay. We thought about climate change when we had a little heatwave – but when the rain and clouds returned, our thoughts vanished with the sun. File photograph: Eric Luke

Our climate cheques are bouncing but we still think we are an exceptional people

The Irish Hockey following their reception at City Hall. The fabulous women who mesmerised us all on both sides of the Border are from Coleraine and Cork, from Belfast and Dublin, from Derry and Larne. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

There are very real ways in which there is no such singular place as Ireland

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern.  “Now that the boom keeps getting boomier and the property market is in full-on freak-out mode, it is time for our political leaders, as the great man famously put it, to ‘start throwing white elephants and red herrings at each other’.” File photograph:  David Sleator/The Irish Times

‘Granny grant’ a symptom of political culture that refuses to build decent public services

What we’ve ended up with after 16 years is a tendering process in which there is just a single bidder which has no experience at all of building this kind of infrastructure. Photograph: Karl Hussey/Fennell Photography

Using the 1950s State electricity model would be a sin against the new orthodoxy

Who do you think you are kidding Monsieur Barnier/We’re preparing to kill each other for a can of Spam.

Contingency plan was to scare Brussels but really only echoes with ‘Don’t panic!’

 William Butler Yeats: After the election of Donald Trump, there was a massive surge in online searches for his magnificently doom-laden “The Second Coming”. Photograph:  Getty

Use of WB Yeats by politicians and media is an index of how bad world has become

British prime minister Theresa May. “While Ireland can’t make Theresa May ask for more time, it can try to make it clear that more time will be given if she asks for it.” Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Extension of Brexit deadline beyond March 2019 is now a vital Irish interest

US president Donald Trump and Russia’s president Vladimir Putin attend a joint press conference after a meeting  in Helsinki, on Monday. Photgraph:  Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The humiliation of Trump is the greatest revenge drama since ‘Hamlet’.

Yes to Europe: Britain knew its decision to join Common Market was a profound moment. Photograph: Popperfoto/Getty

When Britain joined the EU it realised the stakes. Now it is mired in petty politicking

'If anyone had proposed in the run-up to June 2016 what Theresa May’s White Paper proposed this week, there would have been howls of derision from all sides.' Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Second thoughts are the essence of democracy. The Brexit promised in 2016 has vanished so it is time to ask the people again

Former UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson  and former secretary of state for exiting the European Union David Davis: “The Brexit the British are now officially seeking is indeed miserable.” Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Best possible Brexit outcome is the worst of both worlds, a state neither in nor out

 Migrants wait at a naval base in Tripoli, after being rescued in the Mediterranean.  Photograph:  AFP/Mahmud Turkia/Getty Images

Cutting the numbers of migrants will not stop the rise of the far-right because the anxieties it exploits are ultimately not about(...)

US president Donald Trump. “What the far right does is to make power very scarce . . . One man embodies all dominion. He invites all citizens to surrender their power to him.” Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

What can the far right offer in return for people surrendering democratic power?

Religious power: the priest was at the centre of Irish life, and the Catholic Church kept the population under control. Illustration: De Agostini/Getty

The Victorian notion of charity is dying, along with Catholicism and Anglophobia

US president Donald Trump: his claim that immigrants “infest” the US is  test-marketing of whether his fans are ready for the next step-up in language towards “vermin”. Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo

Babies in cages were no ‘mistake’ by Trump but test-marketing for barbarism

David Drumm is too small, too trite, to bear the weight of tragic meaning. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

The Anglo Irish Bank boss was inflated by people’s need to believe in his magic money

Anglo Irish Bank: in 2007 David Drumm (left, with chairman Seán Fitzpatrick) was paid €3.3 million, €2 million of it as a bonus for his magnificent stewardship. Photograph: Alan Betson

Pressure is mounting for top bankers’ pay limits to be lifted. It should be resisted

Tax haven: Yanis Varoufakis says Ireland is a freerider piggybacking on the rest of the world. Photograph: Matteo Bazzi/AFP/Getty

Our national symbol is no longer the Tricolour but a big sign saying ‘12.5%’

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson:  “We’re allowing the whole of our agenda to be dictated by this folly.” Photograph: Getty Images

The truth is that the Brexiteers don’t give a flying frig for Ireland, North or South

Unshamed Magdalenes: among the women who met President Michael D Higgins this week were Rita Lawlor, from Raheny in Dublin, Sally Donohoe, from Ballymun in Dublin, and Catherine Mary O’Connor, from Julianstown, in Co Meath. Portraits by Cyril Byrne

The last Magdalene laundry, which shut only in 1996, should become a memorial centre

“Belting out impassioned nonsense is one way of expressing an Irish identity, and the National Anthem is the primary mode of articulation for a notion of Irishness that is as dead as coffin nails.” File photograph: Getty Images

Enshrining ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ in law is out of tune with radically altered identity

The vigil for Cameron Reilly at St Brigid’s church, Dunleer, Co Louth. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

The authoritarian version of Catholicism is over. In other forms it is alive and well

Two-year-old Rossa Maloney looks at his picture with his mother Emma in a Love Both rally in Dublin, ahead of the referendum on the Eighth Amendment  Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Ireland is too ambiguous to sustain culture wars. Post-vote, we need to win the peace for social justice

Floral tributes are laid  at a mural to Savita Halappanavar on  Camden Street in Dublin on Saturday. Photograph: Getty Images

Ireland has voted No to tribalism and fear in overwhelming decision to remove the Eighth

Brexit is fuelled by an English nationalism as crude and self-deluded as Irish nationalism used to be

Twenty years ago we voted for a new vision of Irish nationalism. Don’t let Brexit drive us back

Repeal the Eighth: there is no compassion if we cannot ask “What if that were me?” Photograph: Tom Honan

We cannot vote to impose on others what we do not really know ourselves

“Tom Murphy would have given every one of his great plays for one short hour of that pure, transcendent self-expression.” Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

This is the text of O’Toole’s eulogy delivered at the service in the Mansion House

Then Minister for Health Charles Haughey with ‘Irish Times’ columnist John Healy, right, in November 1978 at the launch of ‘Nineteen Acres’, Healy’s new book, published by Kenny’s of Galway. Photograph: Tom Lawlor

In 1983, the conservative Catholic John Healy could also be a staunch opponent of the Eighth Amendment

Tom Murphy: He gives us a world of broken, displaced people, a culture that cannot cohere. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Writer of ‘A Whistle in the Dark’ and ‘Conversations on a Homecoming’ dies at age of 83

Women such as Vicky Phelan, above, have to give up everything – privacy, intimacy, ultimately life itself – to try to make the State break its long habits of secrecy and silence. Photograph: CourtPix

Our Republic still exists in the long shadow of shame. Why would it not?

The 13th Amendment of 1992 enshrined the right to travel to have an abortion – it did not actually say “travel to England” but that is  what it has come to mean in  practice. Photograph: Getty

Anti-abortionists depend on pagan England to uphold their vision of a holy Ireland

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: Along with many others, he has lacked the will, the skill, the ruthlessness and the vision to create a national health system that starts with the patient. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Ireland has failed to create a health service owned by people and not vested interests

Bertie Ahern: will his achievements be eclipsed by his shortcomings? Photograph: David Sleator

The former taoiseach resigned 10 years ago this weekend. We assess his legacy

In all the justifiable outrage about the  failures of the State’s cervical cancer screening programme brought to light by Vicky Phelan’s legal action, we must not lose sight of the brutal truth that unnecessary death is a systemic question. Photograph: Collins Courts

Women’s health is a matter of faith and the medical and political authorities must be believed without question

The referendum on the Eighth Amendment will be held on May 25th.

Constitutional ban means Ireland too extreme even for mainstream social conservatives

Jacob Rees-Mogg: the Brexiteer blends Warren Mitchell’s Alf Garnett and Al Murray’s Pub Landlord with PG Wodehouse’s Gussie Fink-Nottle and Monty Python’s Upper-Class Twits. Photograph: Chris J Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

If Brexiteers knew anything about Irish food they would keep their mouths shut

“She wasn’t weeping or pleading. She was calm, controlled, determined. She had a mind and she had made it up.” File photograph: iStockPhoto

I was 18 when asked to help a girl get an abortion. I knew it was not about me, it was about her

Family values: If Barack Obama’s lawyer paid off a porn star to conceal her story of having sex with him shortly after his wife had given birth, conservatives would have reacted with rage and disgust. Photograph: Retrofile/Getty

The rich were only pretending they cared about prudence, law and family values

The Brexit referendum: one of the most important moments in contemporary British and Irish history. File photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire

The party is implicated in what appears to be a serious undermining of the voting process

Military footing: Donald Trump salutes coastguards shortly after firing FBI head James Comey. Photograph: Getty

The blowhard president is poised to bumble into a major military conflict

An anti-abortion march in Dublin in 1982. “If you believe that abortion is a great moral evil, Ireland before the Eighth was just about the best place on Earth.” Photograph: Tom Lawlor

Effect was arguably to break silence on abortion and make it more acceptable

Borderlands: A disused border post near Newry. Photograph: Getty Images

Essential reading: From bleak pictures at border towns, to the threat of a return to a raw and recent past

Denis O’Brien: There is no doubt  that he genuinely sees himself as an embattled figure. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

He has long seen himself as a victim of widespread media and political efforts to do him down

“As fathers and father figures, we need to talk to our boys about what it means to be a man. We need them to be aware, not just of the harm they can do to women, but of the harm they can do to themselves.”  File photograph: Getty Images

Decency shouldn’t have to be defined as manly. Belfast rape trial shows what can happen if it isn’t

Martin Luther King addresses 25,000 civil rights marchers in Montgomery, Alabama, on March 25th, 1965. Photograph: Stephen F Somerstein/Getty Images

King’s murder 50 years ago in Memphis represented an irreparable loss to humanity

Dr Martin Luther King Jr makes his last public appearance at the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 3rd, 1968. The following day King was assassinated on his motel balcony. Photograph: AP Photo/Charles Kelly

King delivered this speech on April 3rd, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. He was shot next day

Save the 8th: the anti-abortion group has hired Kanto, a British data-analytics and political-campaigning company run by Thomas Borwick. Photograph: save8.ie

Why has Save the 8th hired consultant at heart of Trump-Mercer-Brexit data nexus?

Dark web: Cambridge Analytica is controlled by a key funder of the hard right in US politics, the billionaire Robert Mercer, who also owns AggregateIQ’s intellectual property. Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

Before the Brexit vote back in 2016 the party hired the firm’s AggregateIQ stablemate

Donald Trump and Leo Varadkar: the Taoiseach speaks for a country that is being forced to think deeply about its place in the world. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty

Leo Varadkar’s sycophantic US speech was a travesty of Irish culture and history

London children:  we played the same games and watched the same TV programmes and listened to the same pop songs

The Irish culture of my childhood defined Ireland as whatever England was not

Steve Bannon, former adviser to president Donald Trump, and  Marine Le Pen, president of  France’s far-right party Front National (FN),  giving a joint press conference during the FN party annual congress on March 10th in Lille. Photograph:  Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images

We need to take the reactionary threat seriously without taking seriously the grandiose self-image of the reactionaries

“Leo Varadkar comes from a generation that places an enormous premium on being connected and being in touch, that is locked in the feedback loop of approval.” Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

The Taoiseach prefers strategic communications to communicating a strategy

British prime minister Theresa May delivers a speech on Brexit at the Mansion House in London last Friday. Photographer: Chris J Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Recent history shows the UK cannot deliver a smooth and invisible border

  British foreign secretary Boris Johnson: he has suggested the Irish Border could be monitored in the same way the London congestion charge is but it would take a vast infrastructure to cover the 110 million annual trips across 300 different border crossings. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

Momentous EU text on the Border has left the DUP and the Tories praying for a miracle

Anti-Brexit demonstrators protest  outside the Houses of Parliament, in London, England. Photograph: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Tory hardliners are driven by a bizarre and contradictory economic determinism

April 10th, 1998: taoiseach Bertie Ahern, British prime minister Tony Blair and US senator George Mitchell shaking hands after they signed the historic agreement for peace in Northern Ireland. Photograph:  Dan Chung/AFP/Getty Images

Brexit’s true believers have just realised the treaty makes the hard Brexit they desire virtually impossible

“Two World Wars and two World Cups”: Chris Waddle, Stuart Pearce and Gareth Southgate (above) will be allowed to retake their penalties until they score. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Allsport/Getty

From penalty shoot-outs and the Falklands to Rory McIlroy and bendy bananas

Tom Murphy: his daring imagination has found its varied embodiments on the stage. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Scholars and critics will use this fine book as the diving board from which to plunge into the fascinating depths of the great Iri(...)

 Dr Ali Selim of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland. The Muslim population is small but growing rapidly, from 49,000 to 63,000 between 2011 and 2016. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Ten years ago, integration was an imperative. Then the our Republic did nothing

What can be done: the refurbished Shaw Room in National Gallery of Ireland

Plan isn’t visionary but €725m might rescue some national institutions from years of neglect

 The Natural History Museum on Dublin’s Merrion Square is earmrked for priority funding under the National Development plan. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

National Development Plan: €75m a year will go a long towards making the main national cultural establishments fit for purpose

Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage speaking at the Freedom to Prosper conference at the RDS. Photograph: Bryan Meade

A campaign to get Ireland to follow Britain out of the EU is doomed to fail

From 1963 onwards, the pill was imported into Ireland to keep menstrual anarchy at bay. This involved lying on a heroic scale. Photograph: Getty Images

Having to make rape claim to access abortion services recipe for deceit and hypocrisy

The Hundred Years’ War begins: the English claim to the throne of France and the grand rhetoric of Brexit’s revival of the glorious Englishness of Agincourt are bold and thrilling as well as being bonkers. Photograph: Getty Images

Even the worst Brexit will be nothing like the catastrophe of the Hundred Years War

College Green in Dublin: class is very much at work in the controversy over its proposed civic plaza

Behind the College Green bus ban is old-fashioned class discrimination

Former Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan arrives to give evidence at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photograph: Naill Carson/PA

Ex-Garda chief shed no light on strategy of impugning McCabe’s motives at tribunal

Footlights: Tyrone Guthrie in the early 1960s. Photograph: Hulton-Deutsch/Corbis via Getty

Fintan O’Toole on Christopher Fitz-Simon’s edition of the great theatre director’s delightfully lively letters

Rónán Mullen outside Leinster House last October.  “We have a tradition here in Ireland where children with Down syndrome are perhaps more cherished than in many other countries,” he has claimed. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Those who favour Eighth Amendment repeal will have to show why it will not lead to ‘screening out’ of people with disabilities

US President Donald Trump after addressing the crowd during his swearing-in ceremony. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

As Donald Trump was sworn in a year ago, few believed he’d be as bad as they feared

The very fact that non-Catholics arrogantly expect the same treatment as everybody else is a challenge to the whole concept of faith-based medicine. Photograph: iStock

The A&E crisis could easily be solved in Catholic hospitals by turning away infidels

File photograph: iStock

The HSE’s grotesque winter festival has become as regular as Christmas

Peter Sutherland: no one personified quite as clearly as he did the two sides of neoliberal globalisation: its phenomenal energy and its terrible destructiveness. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

As a father of globalisation Peter Sutherland leaves a problematic legacy

November 2010: protesters hold placards depicting then taoiseach Brian Cowen and then minister for finance Brian Lenihan, as they march past the GPO in Dublin. Photograph: Peter Muhly/AFP/Getty Images

The Crash – 10 years on: Is Ireland a wiser and better-governed place than it was in the years of folly and frolic?

Michael Caine as Charlie Croker in ‘The Italian Job’.

The last moments of ‘The Italian Job’ are a perfect metaphor for the UK in 2018

Czechoslovakia, August 1968: Prague residents and students on  top of a Soviet tank in Wenceslas Square. Photograph: Sovfoto/UIG via Getty Images

Fifty years ago the world was on the brink of revolution. Then the right struck back

US president Donald Trump: his inauguration was aggressive, dystopian and, at the time, deeply strange. And it was followed by blatant lying. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Nothing will be quite the same after Trump, Weinstein and Brexit

Within hours, Trump issued a recantation: “The doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman.”

Eighth Amendment law about locking up women and doctors really is step too far

Brexit Britain: Theresa May decided to embrace a phoney populism. Photograph: Jack Taylor/Getty

Decades of demonisation made the EU a natural fit in the search for an 'oppressor' to revolt against

Conor McGregor arrives at Blanchardstown District Court in Dublin, where he was facing a speeding charge. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Crumlin shook off the negative stereotypes of my youth, but he is bringing them back

Theresa May and Arlene Foster: the DUP this week helped to kill the thing it purports to love – the power and prestige of Britain. Photograph: Carl Court/Getty

The DUP’s brinkmanship and manoeuvring have exposed Britain’s powerlessness

“The problem that the Brexiteers most relentlessly ignored has come to determine the entire shape of their project”

If the UK mirrors customs union, why bother leaving EU in the first place?

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker leave after making statements at the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, December 4, 2017. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Drama of Border talks shows how well EU protects members. Is there a lesson there?

Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe Garda at the Charleton tribunal. Photograph: Alan Betson

Political damage of McCabe saga rooted in instinct to punish troublemakers

Leo Varadkar: The political crisis reveals a malaise that goes much deeper than the department of justice

It is not just the Department of Justice that is ‘dysfunctional’. It is Irish democracy

Portrait of Jonathan Swift  by Charles Jervas in London’s National Portrait Gallery. Photograph: DeAgostini/Getty Images

350 years after his birth, Swift’s savage indignation can still reach right into our hearts

Sgt Maurice McCabe arriving for aPublic Account Committee meeting in 2014.Photograph: Cyril Byrne

‘We have to assume withholding of the emails from Charleton was deliberate’

This is arguably the most difficult single moment an independent Irish government has ever faced. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Our politicians are indulging in high-wire acts when they should be playing poker

Leo Varadkar briefs the press at 10 Downing Street after meeting with Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May  on September 25, 2017. Photograph: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images

An alliance decades in the making is threatened by an utter lack of progress over the post-separation border

“How could Frances Fitzgerald possibly have forgotten reading such an explosive revelation in relation to the most politically destructive saga of recent years?”   Photograph:  Brian Lawless/PA Wire

The weirdness of this political crisis is that so far it is all cover-up and no crime

At the announcement in London of the 2023 Rugby World Cup host were Irish bid chairman Dick Spring, Minister for Sport Shane Ross, Brian O’Driscoll and IRFU president Philip Orr. Photograph: Dave Rogers/Inpho/Getty Images

We’ve lost our exotic allure without replacing it with the attraction of efficiency

The truth is that this is not a zero sum game – boys and men have nothing to lose and everything to gain from this period of openness.

Men and boys are victims both of abuse and of the toxic idea of masculinity that fuels it

‘After 25 years without the Border-crossing rituals, they will, if they return, seem impossibly absurd.’ File photograph: Niall Carson/PA

The UK’s move may result in a return to the pointless rituals of inspection at the Border

Bono & Hamilton

Fintan O’Toole: Ireland has sold its soul but is getting a very good price for it

The Sophia housing project on Cork Street in Dublin, which was set up to provide sanctuary for families living in crisis. Photograph: Alan Betson

Cattle disease outbreak showed how State can use every sinew to solve a crisis

Donald Trump: bearing grudges is what his supporters do best. They want a tale of resentment and revenge. Photograph: Eric Thayer/New York Times

Trump – one year on: The president plays a character, one whose divisiveness his supporters adore

Gate Theatre founders Hilton Edwards and Micheál Mac Liammóir: The theatre has a special place in the history of the struggle for sexual equality and respect in Ireland. Photograph: The Irish Times

A case taken by an actress against a Trinity student in 1747 gives the lie to the notion that there was a time when sexual harrass(...)

The Luas Red line. “If they did not already know it, they now know that they are vulnerable to sexual menace, even in public places.” Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Men’s treatment of women will not change unless boys are taught manners

Fintan O'Toole: Shaw changed not what people thought but the way they thought

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