Members of the Black and Tans, an armed auxiliary force of the Royal Irish Constabulary, and British army privates watch fighting at  the siege of the Four Courts in June 1922. Photograph: Topical Press Agency/Getty

Thorny issues of past require sensitivity but realism – in both North and South

Suspects being searched in Dublin, Ireland in 1920 during the Irish War of Independence. From Story of Twenty Five Years, published 1935. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

National Library exhibition makes space for civilian experience of intense conflict

 Black & Tans guarding Dublin street after a shooting on Gloucester Road.

Diarmaid Ferriter: The terrorising Black and Tans had no monopoly on brutality in 1920

Marian Finucane in January 1980: rarely lost her inquisitiveness of instinct for what would generate an emotional charge.  Photograph: Pat Langan

Broadcaster’s empathy and humanity explored society for mixed Irish audience

A Christmas crib at the Jasna Gora Monastery in  southern Poland. Filling the crib has long been controversial. Photograph: Waldemar Deska/EPA

Traditional nativity scene-setting gives way to distasteful commercialisation

Michael Collins and Richard Mulcahy at Arthur Griffith's funeral, August 1922

Details of what lay behind the threatened Army mutiny of 1924 are only emerging now

Book review: Leeann Lane does justice to the activist who has been unfairly underestimated

Under the Litter Pollution Act 1997, it is an offence for someone to allow their dog to foul in a public place. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Canine excrement covers our streets as unsocial dog-owners escape any penalty

Minister of external affairs Frank Aiken and taoiseach Éamon de Valera

This book marking a century of foreign policy provides a well-written overview

Mr Justice Sean Ryan, chairman  of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse,  with Anne McLoughlin of the confidential committee. A compromise between the concerns of  survivors   and the issue of promised confidentiality needs to be found. Photograph: Eric Luke

Similar problems about sealing sensitive records have been dealt with before

While Fianna Fáil’s Seán MacEntee in opposition in 1929 decried the usurpation of powers by unelected officials, in time he was himself castigated for championing further central control over local authorities.

Every government since independence has looked to centralise power

An Irish immigrant sits on a chair next to an Italian and her children at Ellis Island in the early 20th century. Photograph:  FPG/Getty Images

All migrant history encompasses guilt, shame, progress, dislocation and tragedy

An East German policeman  looking through a hole  in the Berlin Wall in November  1989. Those breaching the  wall 30 years ago justifiably felt they were at the centre of history, but they were nowhere  near the end of it. Photograph: Gerard Malie/AFP/Getty Images

Convulsions always generate a hankering for what has been displaced

The two big beasts of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael still dominate and there is still much faux posturing about the supposed gulf between them. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

The two big parties may swap places but there will be no radical new approach

A section of the the peace wall between the Catholic Falls Road and the Protestant Shankill Road in Belfast. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP via Getty Images

Fraught Brexit process puts onus on all in North to keep striving for dialogue

Emma De Souza and her husband, Jake. Photograph: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

It must be seen in the context of the tortured identity politics of Northern Ireland

‘On the Run’ by Seán Keating. Copyright The Estate of Seán Keating, IVARO Dublin, Image courtesy of the Crawford Art Gallery, Cork

The remarkable level of human detail in pension applications enhances our understanding of republican volunteers both during and a(...)

In revolutionary Ireland 100 years ago, the formal promise was made that ‘no child should suffer hunger’. Photograph: iStock

Patchiness of Government scheme shows up the extent of food extremes that coexist here

Benedict Kiely, the centenary of whose birth falls this year, was a critic of unionist misrule. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Brexit crisis gives added force and relevance to the words of Omagh-born writer Benedict Kiely

 US president Donald Trump and British prime minister Boris Johnson:   If we have learnt anything over the last three years it is that  contemporary crises demand a proper knowledge of the history of statecraft. Photograph:  Saul Loeb/AFP

More than ever we must study the roads that lead to a dangerous level of political dysfunction

Independent farmers and supporters outside the Dawn Meats plant at Grannagh on the Waterford-Kilkenny border. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Small farmers and factory workers are exploited, and the State does little to help them

Boris Johnson quoted Ian Paisley as saying of Northern Ireland “that the people were British but the cattle were Irish”.

Solution lies in shared distrust of London and pragmatically prioritising North

Ironically, given the wailing of Jacob Rees-Mogg, it will be Boris Johnson who will now imitate Charles Stewart Parnell and launch his people versus parliament crusade to win a majority

The British prime minister might already have overplayed his hand, just as Parnell did

Boris Johnson speaks at a Conservative Party leadership campaign hustings at in London. File Photograph: Neil Hall/EPA

The hypocrisy inherent in the British PM's words and deeds is astounding

British prime minister Boris Johnson: blithely ignoring all the  complications of Brexit. Photograph: Finnbarr Webster

Johnson speaks of Belfast Agreement’s ‘delicate balance’ but is ignorant of it

  British paratroopers in Derry on Bloody Sunday. The conflict continued to divide trade unions, county councils and sporting organisations among others: in that sense the Troubles was, in historian Brian Hanley’s words, “a constant backdrop” to life in the Republic. Photograph: William L. Rukeyser/Getty Images

Psychological divide remains between people in the Republic and Northern Ireland

The British prime minister, Boris Johnson. Photograph: Simon Dawson/EPA

It contributed to partition, ongoing strife and a sense of unfinished business

Former taoiseach Jack Lynch:  he  struggled to find a coherent, agreed cabinet response as the North became inflamed in 1969

The relationship between Dublin and London needs to be managed carefully to dilute the current ‘momentum of disorder’

We were hilariously warned this week by the retired MEP and new chief executive of Banking and Payments Federation Ireland, Brian Hayes, that ‘for the last number of years, bank bashing is the new form of groupthink in this country’. Photograph: Alan Betson

Gamekeeper-turned-poacher Brian Hayes now has the gall to cheerlead for the banking elite

Conservative Party leadership contender Boris Johnson. ‘Wilful ignorance about the Border suffuses Johnson’s outlook.’ Photograph: Andrew Matthews/Reuters

Dublin needs to engage in realistic planning for the Border in case of a no-deal Brexit

Garda Majella Moynihan in 1998: As senior gardaí interrogated her, she was subjected to a lay version of a Catholic marriage tribunal. Photograph: RTÉ

Hounding of Majella Moynihan had roots in force’s hypocritical ‘manliness’ ethos

Boris Johnson during the launch of his campaign to become leader of the Conservative Party. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Tory leadership contender is so unprincipled and dishonest he may retreat on the Border

Former minister for justice Alan Shatter. In retirement, it appears he continues to be convinced of the stupidity and unthinking prejudices of his political opponents and oblivious to his shortcomings. File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Diarmaid Ferriter: Few mourned his downfall but it has nothing to do with his Jewish faith

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan had his work cut out for him after the party’s annihilation in the 2011 general election. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Party has momentum on climate change, but faces old questions of purity versus participation

John Hume  (left) and Seamus Mallon  walk on the strand at the Slieve Donard Hotel, in Newcastle during a break from the SDLP annual conferece on November 18th, 2000. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Seamus Mallon details growing up in sectarian settings and his political career

Margaret Thatcher: the bond she cultivated with the US was paralleled by a destructive disdain for Europe. Photograph: Getty Images

Diarmaid Ferriter: Thatcher’s victories came at the cost of deep inequalities and confusion about British identity that still reso(...)

It seems likely that Fine Gael’s European candidate in Dublin, Frances Fitzgerald, will easily top the poll. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Despite its urgency, the environment is not a main theme for most European election candidates

TK Whitaker, when looking back at the early years of the ESB, pointed out that  “the government showed no pusillanimity in setting up a national monopoly in the production and sale of an essential source of energy”, and the ESB stood by its statutory mandate. Photograph: Neil Warner for ESB

The ESB was given responsibility for what was a national project in 1946 – and it worked

In the Allianz ad Donogh O’Malley’s son Daragh  delivers the famous speech introducing free education.

Donogh O’Malley’s free education speech from 1966 is pillaged for profit by insurer

Margaret MacCurtain. “MacCurtain’s life and work reflect the second wave of the feminist movement in Ireland that emerged in the late 1960s.” Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Margaret MacCurtain embraced challenge of commission on status of women

Éamon de Valera in 1948: JJ Lee’s analysis of the political state-builders, including William T Cosgrave, de Valera and Seán Lemass, was multilayered and nuanced. Photograph: Haywood Magee/Getty

Historian’s classic account lacerated the country’s mediocrity and begrudgery

Taoiseach John A Costello  arriving at Northolt Airport for trade talks with the British government, June 16th,  1948. Photograph: Keystone/Getty

Ireland Act saw the exit from the Commonwealth and a burst of pious hot air in the Dáil

“For all the recent focus on the ‘solidarity’ of the EU in backing Ireland’s insistence on no return to a hard border and protection of the Belfast Agreement, there is too much muteness and ambiguity about the elephant of post-Brexit Irish citizenship in the room. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

DeSouza case highlights difficulties set to arise in asserting EU rights

Edna O’Brien: has acknowledged the censorship and outrage bruised her. Photograph: Frank Miller

Ireland has a long way from its 1960s ban on Country Girls to praise for Normal People

Tánaiste Simon Coveney and DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson at the Fine  Gael national conference in Wexford last Saturday. Photograph: Patrick Browne/FG/PA Wire

Party realists realise a shift in the wider balance of power requires a new strategy

Richie Ryan, Garret FitzGerald and Nuala Fennell at a Fine Gael press conference in June 1979. Photograph: Eddie Kelly

Party grandees have conveniently forgotten how former minister was sidelined

What we have been witnessing since the 2016 Brexit referendum is  the inevitable culmination of a history of melancholy morphing into vehemence. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

Britain has always seen the EU as something to be endured rather than embraced

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood speaking at Fianna Fáil’s ardfheis  in February: the SDLP’s force has  dissipated. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Northern nationalists look to be locked outside the gates of power

Are we storing up trouble with iPad schools and overreliance on technology-enhanced learning that can facilitate distraction and neglect of writing and reading skills?

Digital technology is vital but it may be eroding communication functions

IRA men pulling down the union jack from the Masonic Hall on Molesworth Street in Dublin in 1922.

Diarmaid Ferriter: State’s origin merits a complex and versioned history

In December 2017, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar assured Northern unionists: “The Irish Government has no hidden agenda.” Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Diarmaid Ferriter: Fine Gael needs to back up its rhetoric on the North

Border patrol: a wounded British soldier in Co Fermanagh in 1978. Photograph: Alex Bowie/Getty

Thatcher made one visit to the Border, and viewed it ‘from the window of a high-speed helicopter’

George Mitchell in Belfast, 1999. The “greening of the White House” during the Bill Clinton era in the 1990s has been well documented, as has its influence on the peace process, including  Mitchell’s chairing of the negotiations that led to the Belfast Agreement. Photograph: Peter Morrison/AP

The US played an important role in the peace process from 1977 onwards

European flags with the British Union Jack flag fly in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. Photograph: Frederick Florin/AFP/Getty Images

History shows that insisting London comes up with a solution is not the answer

Robert Watt, secretary general of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, declined to appear before the Dáil committee investigating the spiralling cost of the national children’s hospital. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Civil servant champions accountability but will not answer questions on children’s hospital

St Joseph’s industrial school in Artane, Dublin, was run by the Christian Brothers from 1870 to 1969. Between  1869 and 1969, 105,000 Irish children were committed to industrial schools.   Photograph: Getty Images

No Child 2020: Dark stains remain on the Irish conscience over the treatment of children

The first Dáil in 1919. Photograph: Hulton Archive

Absolutism about the backstop will only drive Britain up a political cul-de-sac

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said last year  any form of carbon tax would have ‘totally wiped out’  tax cuts in the budget because we were ‘heading into winter’ Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Politicians must stop waiting on ‘the appropriate time’ and finally act on climate change

The war on the Ulster border. Irish Free State troops guarding a road on the Fermanagh-Cavan border. The shallow trench in which the men are standing crosses the road which is further obstructed by a strong barricade of trees in the background

Donnacha Ó Beacháin exposes the inconsistencies of Border policy

Sinn Féin leaders at the First Dáil in 1919. Photograph: Hulton Archive

The first Dáil and its successors remained wedded to a conservative model of politics

Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jnr and Frank Sinatra at the Cocoanut Grove club, Hollywood, in 1961. Photograph: Express/Express/Getty Images

‘Fairytale of New York’ row shows how the festive season is often a time of strife

Joe Duffy could have added that two of Farage’s children are entitled to citizenship here through their Irish-born mother Photograph: Alastair Grant

‘Breathtaking ignorance’ of Brexiteers on Border has deep roots in past affairs

Dublin  and Tipperary in the All-Ireland senior camogie final in 1984. Photograph: Eddie Kelly

Unesco status for the game is welcome, but it remains shoddily treated compared with hurling

Michael Collins leaves a Requiem service at Portobello Barracks in 1922. Photograph: Popperfoto/Getty Images

This robustly demystifying account of Collins’ legacy is a book of great originality

Martyn Turner’s X Case cartoon from 1992: “The introduction of internment in Ireland ... for 14-year-old girls”

The cartoonist thinks in words not pictures, which is why his satire carries such power

 The Long Tunnel at the Casino at Marino in Dublin, which was used for target practice during the War of Independence. Photograph: Alan Betson

State must ensure study of history does not become class-based

“Despite the DUP’s current narrative, the peace that eventually came to Northern Ireland involved multiple strands, with input from Dublin, London, Belfast and the EU.”

‘Ulster says no’ stance betrays ignorance of British and Irish history

Veterans view ‘The Haunting Soldier’, a 6m-high sculpture created and designed by Martin Galbavy and Chris Hannam, in St Stephen’s Green, Dublin. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Diarmaid Ferriter: Thousands are still haunted by the conflict, but others view it as not ‘ours’

An image from the Lost Moment exhibition at the Gallery of Photography. October 1968: Mrs Ferguson and husband James, in Derry. Photograph: Tony McGrath/Observer

Some Derry activists are still campaigning for social justice in their native hinterland

Silence and selective recounting of history reinforces caricature of ‘bad nuns’

Anna Burns  following the announcement of her winning the Man Booker Prize for Fiction for her novel ‘Milkman’ this week.  Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/Epa

Anna Burns should pay no more heed to politically motivated criticisms than Heaney or McGahern

Wilson’s Bridge in Buncrana, Co Donegal, destroyed after floods in August 2017. Photograph: Peter Murtagh

The gulf between the Government’s rhetoric and action has grown to farcical proportions

 Arlene Foster has failed to lead her party back to power-sharing, and how ironic, given her expressed concerns about nationalism, that she should make common cause with cheerleading nationalists in the Conservative Party. Photograph: Getty Images

Arlene Foster does not seem to have contributed to the welfare of the North for a long time

Aran Islands, 1922: Burning seaweed for kelp. Photograph: Print Collector/Getty

Nowhere was the relationship between the clergy and parishoners more sharply observed than on offshore islands

In relation to the Northern Ireland and Border dilemma, British prime minister Theresa May insists she could not countenance anything ‘which effectively divides our country in two’. Photograph: Jack Taylor/Reuters

Tory Brexiteers still fail to grasp the complexity and centrality of the issue

Former president Mary Robinson: described her approach as occasionally “peeking over the line”, for she pushed the role into political, social and economic areas. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Presidency free to promote strong sense of justice not always State-approved

Éamon de Valera: insisted in the Dáil that despite the contentious clause there was “no suggestion” a woman’s life “should necessarily be spent within the home”. Photograph: General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

Constitution’s article 41.2 has never been tested in terms of gender rights

Leo Varadkar is hoisted on shoulders after being elected as leader of Fine Gael at the Mansion House, Dublin. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Diarmaid Ferriter on a premature analysis that fails to prove its point

  The Celebrations perform at the  National Lottery’s  offices in the Irish Life Centre on Abbey Street Lower,  Dublin 1: Just 30 cent of every euro spent on the Lotto goes to good causes. Photograph: Mac Innes

Far too little focus goes on how lottery funds are distributed

Max Woods and Emily Moore from Kildare on their first day of junior infants at the Kildare Town Educate Together National School in Kildare. Photograph: Alan Betson

Ireland has a long established ‘educational market’ with middle and upper classes free to migrate to private service provision to (...)

 Cardinal Paul Cullen, one of the chief architects of modern Irish Catholicism, was an indefatigable reformer of the governance and practice of Irish Catholicism. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Catholic Church’s historical mix of charity and snobbery gave rise to cruelty

Papal Cross in Phoenix Park: 78% of the population identified themselves as Catholic in 2016 and the practice of Catholicism remains strong by international standards. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Amid Church failures to confront decades of abuse, Ireland still has devoted believers

Éamon de Valera: in 1966 the then minister for education Donogh O’Malley said it was ‘impossible to conceive of anybody voting against de Valera except those who want to witness another attempt at a fascist dictatorship’. Photograph:  Colman Doyle

Michael D Higgins has to do something without precedent; separate the office from the candidate as a sitting president

Historian Catherine Corless with a list of children missing from the Mother and Baby Home run by the Bon Secours nuns in Tuam. Photograph: Peter Nicholls

It is unacceptable that confusion over site has been allowed drag on for four years

Theresa May: putting personal survival above the needs of the country is doing untold damage to British politics. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/AFP/Getty

Diarmaid Ferriter: The PM’s Brexit strategy is to limp on. She should face down her critics

Perhaps Josepha Madigan fancies herself as a latter-day Sinéad O Connor, who famously ripped up a picture of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live in 1992. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Perhaps she could lead a merry band of female dope smokers, fornicators and papal protesters

David Norris: wrote earlier this week of the struggle for gay rights: “It wasn’t all grim . . . There was an awful lot of fun.”

Contemporary emotion can cloud historical assessment and destroy nuance

International Financial Services Centre: Team Ireland has constantly dismissed the description of Ireland as a tax haven, even when the extent of that haven is patently obvious.  Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Department of Finance persists in denying Ireland is world’s biggest tax haven

Oliver Cromwell’s troops massacre the town’s civilians after the Seige of Drogheda in County Louth, September 1649. Photograph: Archive Photos/Getty Images

Tom Bartlett’s four-volume edition is a marvellously satisfying 1,500-year survey

Students and workers rally in Paris in May 1968, when student protests sparked a general strike of eight million French workers. Photograph: Jacques Marie/AFP/Getty Images

Critics argue social revolution sparked by Paris protests has run its course

A farming family during the Famine. Illustration: Hulton/Getty

Diarmaid Ferriter: He went early and courageously to uncomfortable places

The D-Day landings: A large number of British people surveyed thought the landings took place in Germany rather than France

We should be aware of the ignorance the downgrading of history has generated elsewhere

Britain’s Brexit secretary, David Davis (right), tweeted this picture from his visit to Northern Ireland last Monday. Photograph: Twitter

Border is being taken as seriously as the boundary commissioners in Spike Milligan’s ‘Puckoon’

Leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party John Redmond (left) with John Dillon, who succeeded him as leader, circa 1910. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

For the newly-galvanised party, 1918 was characterised by protest, piety, propaganda, prison and ultimately political triumph

Michael Healy-Rae and Caroline Simons during the launch of the  ‘Love Both’ campaign in Dublin this week. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Diarmaid Ferriter: It is a strange kind of love that denies a teenage rape victim an abortion

Stormont. Footage this week of April 1998 was a reminder of all the revisions and ironies that have squeezed the SDLP and the UUP out, despite their efforts in getting the agreement over the line. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Surely the point of the Belfast Agreement was the opportunity afforded for self-determination?

Edna O’Brien, despite church condemnation of her writing,  once said: ‘There’s a lot to be said for having had a rigorous Catholic upbringing.’ Photograph: Alan Betson

Diarmaid Ferriter: Ireland’s attitudes towards sex are still hugely problematic

Vote No supporters launch the official Save the Eighth campaign.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Diarmaid Ferriter: Eighth Amendment was result of efforts in 1983 to politicise abortion

Pope Francis makes his visit to Ireland in August, a trip which was formally confirmed this week. Photograph: Stefano Rellandino/Pool Photo via AP

Women looking to be taken seriously in Church organisation will still be ‘shouting from outside’

Grand slam: Joe Schmidt gives Ireland a prematch talk at Twickenham. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty

Diarmaid Ferriter: Grand-slam coach ended ‘glorious’ failures with proper organisation

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