When we outsiders see Boris Johnson stuck on a zip wire with a Union Jack in each hand or Jacob Rees-Mogg bringing his nanny along to canvass voters on his behalf, we are initially indulgent: how delightfully, comically, English. Photograph: EPA

Brexit has given us a new species – the harmful eccentric

Jeff Bezos: the Amazon boss   disclosed attempts to blackmail him by the publishers of the lurid tabloid, the National Inquirer. Photograph:  Joshua Roberts/Reuters  Jeff Bezos: the Amazon boss   disclosed attempts to blackmail him by the publishers of the lurid tabloid, the National Inquirer. Photograph:  Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Ironically the president gave Jeff Bezos the courage to defy the National Inquirer

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker shakes hands with UK prime minister Theresa May. Photograph: Francisco Seco/AP

Sense of danger hides fact the UK is repatriating boring stuff the EU excels at

Liam Neeson:   the actor said in a subsequent TV interview for ABC that “you sometimes just scratch the surface and you discover this racism and bigotry and it’s there”. He should have known that for black people the surface is their own flayed skins. Photograph: Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

The Irish actor seemed not to understand the story he told pressed on an open wound

A surveillance camera shows the abduction of Jamie Bulger (2), in February 1993. Vincent Lambe’s short film Detainment, based on the abduction and its aftermath, has been nominated for an Academy Award. Photograph: BWP Media via Getty Images

Calls for Vincent Lambe’s ‘Detainment’ to be withdrawn are deeply misguided

Italian educator Maria Montessori with young children at her school in Smithfield, London, circa 1951. Photograph:  Popperfoto/Getty Images

Brutality lingered as a set of attitudes long after it was banished as official practice

The Bombardier plant in Belfast is “a living legacy of a British and Protestant industrial world that shaped unionism itself”. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

A thousand Airbus jobs in east Belfast will be unviable if there is a hard Brexit

Dubliner Fergus Linehan, director of the Edinburgh International Festival. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Ireland can capitalise on the Brexit brain drain from across the Irish Sea

Pro-Brexit protesters  outside the Houses of Parliament:  hard Brexiteers, under the cover of nationalism, want to unleash an even more virulent form of globalisation that will destroy what is left of working-class communities. Photograph: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

Brexit will not be reversed on the basis of economic arguments alone. The Left must address the crisis of identity at its heart

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney shakes hands with German foreign minister Heiko Maas at Dublin Castle. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

Delusion that EU’s fear of no-deal will allow renegotiation is likely to be obliterated by parliament

The problems children face in Ireland today, and the policies that could solve them

What the ardent Leavers  say about a no-deal Brexit is not that they are really convinced it is a good thing, but that the English will endure the suffering and get through it because that is what they have always done. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

Why does today’s vote in the House of Commons feel so anticlimactic? Because it is based on a fantasy of how history works

Photographs from a wanted poster issued for IRA man Dan Breen

The Soloheadbeg ambush of 1919 was as much a strike at Sinn Féin as at Britain

Brexiteers Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nigel Farage, who said if Brexit was obstructed he would “don khaki, pick up a rifle and head for the front lines”. Photograph: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Only those who fail to take threat of political violence seriously can indulge it

1945: British and American soldiers dancing with German girls in a Berlin street cafe only days after the fraternisation ban was lifted at the end of the second World War II. Photograph: Getty Images

In the US and Britain, 2019 may see disenchantment with the reactionary nature of 2016

  The remains of cars destroyed by the Carr Fire in July in Redding, California. No one was even vaguely surprised that Trump’s response to the wildfires was to deny that they had anything to do with climate change. Photograph:   Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Physical and political wildfires raged across the world – and we began to get used to them

Fintan O’Toole with his sons, Fionn (left) and Sam, at a book launch in 1999. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

There are times when the wonder of death and birth seems overwhelming

British prime minister Theresa May gestures while answering questions following a speech at Complesso Santa Maria Novella in Florence, Italy, on Friday, September 22nd, 2017. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

The Irish did not invent the backstop to thwart Brexit. The crisis is a British one

There are no angels or shepherds coming to adore our homeless children; no star from the east to hang over them. Above, a window in  the lady chapel of the Catholic University Church, St Stephen’s Green, Dublin. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

While we worship an image of a homeless child, thousands of children in Ireland will wake up at Christmas in places that are not h(...)

British prime minister Theresa May returns inside 10 Downing Street, following her statement after she survived an attempt by Tory MPs this week to oust her with a vote of no confidence.  Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Unless it escapes from this mess now, Britain will be locked into a decade of political crises

Comic capers: “The terms and conditions of Brexit now look like they were written by the Marx Brothers.” File photograph: Getty Images

Fintan O’Toole: Brexit looks like it was written by Marx Brothers

Protest meeting in 1918 in Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon, against conscription in Ireland. In April that year,  Lloyd George’s government had given itself the power to extend conscription to Ireland. Photograph: Photo12/UIG/Getty Images

In an act of peaceful secession, Irish people chose to be citizens, not subjects

Do we have to see children being tear-gassed on the US-Mexico border before we believe that a slide into authoritarianism is under way?  Do we have to crucify Christ in every generation before we can understand our own capacity for cruelty? Photograph: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

Fintan O’Toole: Why must we experience the worst before we can believe in it?

Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s Brexit. Illustration: Angelo McGrath (with apologies to Jamie Reid)

The UK’s decision to leave the EU is like living through the anarchy of punk all over again

The expedition has now arrived simultaneously at Cape Disappointment, Delusion Point and Exasperation Bay. Photograph: iStock

HMS Brexit moored between Cape Disappointment, Delusion Point and Exasperation Bay

Up Yours Delors: the pantomime image is a distinctive genre of English fiction. One of the tragedies of Brexit is that it will become redundant

Brexit is the outcome of decades of spoofery by Britain’s media

File photograph: Boris Johnson speaking at a rally for the Vote Leave organisation during the Brexit referendum campaign on March 11th, 2016 Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

To get to Brexit, a society has to dream itself into an unexperienced condition

Theresa May gives a statement at Downing Street. It is easier to keep pretending that, if only May had stuck it to the Europeans in the negotiations, the perfect have-cake/eat-cake Brexit would have been delivered. Photograph:  Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty

A truly patriotic politician would now ask the British people again if this is what they really want

Northern Secretary Karen Bradley, who said: “I didn’t understand things like when elections are fought, for example, in Northern Ireland – people who are nationalists don’t vote for unionist parties and vice versa.” Photograph: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Future chroniclers will in fact have to distinguish between three kinds of ignorance

(Original Caption) 'Germany: World War I Armistice: Officers celebrate at captured German canteen.' In reality, the industrial nature of the slaughter destroyed all the notions of individual heroism and chivalry.

A century after the Armistice of 1918, we are still living in the world it created

 U.S. President Donald Trump gestures at a campaign rally on the eve of the U.S. mid-term elections at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, U.S., November 5, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

Success in the Senate race consolidates his control of conservative America

Theresa May:  it is crucially important that she  is allowed her Dunkirk moment. Photograph: Getty Images

It is vital that May is allowed to save face even as she performs the great Brexit climbdown

Illustrator: Fuchsia MacAree

Capital ideas: Irish architecture is part of the solution to a major social problem

‘Hysteria can turn moral decency into hatred, and hatred can make monsters of us all.’ File photograph: David Sleator

Avoiding hatred is not about being nice to Travellers but about preserving democracy

  Peter Casey decided to save his floundering campaign by picking at the scab of Ireland’s deepest prejudice. Photograph:   Collins

Casey’s rivals, to their credit, did not follow by picking scab of Ireland’s deepest prejudice

Murdered: the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2010. Photograph: AFP/Getty

The deal with Saudi Arabia has always been: everything’s fine as long as the oil flows

Áras an Uachtaráin: I would not trade any of our recent presidents for all the crowned heads of Europe. Photograph: Frank Miller

As a Republic we can be proud we elect presidents of eloquence and gravity

Let us consider the following scenario. In order to come to power, Jeremy Corbyn agrees a pact with the SNP. But he is still three seats short. Photograph:  Leon Neal/Getty Images

It’s time to think about the unthinkable – a disintegrated UK, a reignition of the Troubles

Any unionist with a stim of wit would understand that Northern Ireland’s future in the union depends on the Remainers. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The little Englanders the DUP has aligned with have no desire to subsidise the North

Crumlin housing project. File photograph: Tony Linck/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Millions of us grew up in local authority houses. We are no worse than anyone else

Former Garda commissioner  Martin Callinan. “We are drawn by Charleton into a world where we cannot trust appearances. We could not trust the person, Martin Callinan, who had the job of keeping us safe.” Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Only enduring comfort of this moral tale is that it has a hero in Maurice McCabe

The Minister for Finance delivering Budget 2018. Paschal Donohue today, like all of his modern predecessors, is so busy making sure the ship is not sunk by gross inequality that he can barely think about the course of the voyage. Photograph: Alan Betson

Ireland’s finances are worse than other countries in four key ways

Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster, earlier this week: the image of the “blood red line” was not in good taste, but it was revealing. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

When it’s all over, what will be left for Northern Ireland to be united with?

 Judge Brett Kavanaugh  testifying   before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington on Thursday, September 27th, 2018. Photograph: Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The nominee for the US Supreme Court is part of a wider reactionary mindset in which being Irish means you can dismiss your own pr(...)

Eyes on Gibraltar: the enclave’s 34,000 residents voted 96 per cent to remain in the EU. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty

The Spain-Gibraltar border shows what a customs-union divide looks like

Ian Buruma: edited the ‘New York Review of Books’  with grace and intelligence, but  was wrong to publish the Ghomeshi piece. Photograph:  Simone Padovani/Awakening/Getty

The departure of Ian Buruma as editor of the ‘New York Review of Books’ should worry everyone who values the freedom of the press

Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern signing the Belfast Agreement in 1998. Photograph: Dan Chung/Reuters

Britain’s new Brexit strategy is a cynical reversal of the Irish adage. But it won’t work

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar  at the launch of the Land Development Agency. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Developer-led planning has never met the basic need for shelter. Yet the Government clings to its blind ideological faith in the m(...)

Boris Johnson:  trying to snatch glorious defeat from the jaws of his accidental victory, to recreate Brexit as a Lost Cause.  Photograph: Steve Back/Getty Images

Johnson is not evil, but he is a deeply unserious manchild who pursues only his own pleasures – while ruining the country he purpo(...)

In every vile regime, there are people who tell themselves that they are working on the inside in order to protect the state from the worst excess of a half-crazed tyrant. Indeed, vile regimes can’t work without these people. Photograph: Getty Images

Fintan O’Toole: Self-exculpating mindsets of the enablers are not a form of resistance

Gabriel Fitzmaurice in Moyvane, County Kerry, one of those places that is about to lose its post office

Ireland needs a joined-up national plan for vibrant villages

George Orwell, in 1944, wrote that “almost nobody seems to feel that an opponent deserves a fair hearing or that the objective truth matters so long as you can score a neat debating point”. Photograph: AP

We should not despair about apparent impossibility of civil discourse – we’ve been here before

Pope Francis arrives to attend the Festival of Families at Croke Park. Photograph: Getty Images

Francis cannot escape reality that he heads an institution struggling to confess its sins

Pope Francis candles are seen for sale at a stall at the Pastoral Congress at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, Ireland August 22, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

Francis seems a fine person, and the faithful will greet him with joy. But he can’t repair the ruins of a corrupt, abusive institu(...)

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

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