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

There was an admirable and consistent parallel focus on special needs, educational disadvantage and poverty

A measure of the INTO’s resilience is that it had 7,000 members in the North by 2017

Irish-language protesters outside the Education Authority  in Belfast last year, protesting against the withdrawal of funding from Irish-medium youth providers. File photograph:  Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

State intervention may only deepen divide and it could prove counterproductive

At the height of the recent bad weather, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar tweeted a photo of himself visiting Holles Street hospital.

Diarmaid Ferriter: Taoiseach should learn from Blair on the dangers of the ‘constant campaign’

A century since the Rising: street art on Marks Alley West in Dublin. Photograph: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty

Roy Foster and others show the humanities’ role in urgent contemporary debate

Tom Crean, the Irish Antarctic explorer who died 80 years ago this year

The Creans’ legacy reveals much about loyalty and service as we approach War of Independence centenary

 Sir Winston Churchill, January 1954:  his contribution to wider history was such that he was a personal hero of former Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald. Photograph: PA/PA Wire

In recent years, the Tory simplification of British history has been nakedly political

‘Banks have been bailed out by the State, yet still they abuse enormous power and accumulate vast profits at our expense.’ File photograph: Getty Images

History shows that our financial institutions have consistently mistreated the public

Gaiety School of Acting members Evelyn O’Keeffe, Megan O’Malley and Meg O’Brien  launching the Oireachtas  programme of events commemorating 100 years of voting rights for women. Photograph: Jason Clarke

Diarmaid Ferriter: Women in Dáil have been quite a nuisance over the decades

Historian Norman Davies travelled around the world in the first half of 2012, to “spot the recurring themes and catch the fleeting details. And then to tell the story”

Beneath Another Sky is an ambitious project – both travel guide and historical narrative

A nun hands out Yes leaflets at Basin Lane polling station in Dublin on the day of the abortion referendum in 1983. Photograph: Pat Langan

The State is finally confronting the consequences of the 1983 referendum

Prison photograph of backstreet abortionist Mamie Cadden.

Cruel backstreet operator was product of decades of denial and legal ambiguity

Gerry O’Carroll: “I am convinced that Ms Hayes did give birth to twins and was the mother of both the Tralee and the Cahirciveen babies,” the retired garda wrote  in 2014. Photographed in 2001 by  Alan Betson

Diarmaid Ferriter: The retired garda still insists Hayes gave birth to the Cahersiveen baby

Paddy Harte sought to educate his peers about the reality of the Border and highlight the scale of their ignorance.

The Fine Gael TD sought to open eyes on both sides in the North in the face of great hostility

A mural in Gaza City of  Ibrahim Abu Thurayeh, a wheelchair-bound  Palestinian who was shot dead in clashes between Israeli forces and protesters along the Gaza-Israel border in December. Photograph: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)

Government has opportunity to take lead within EU on Palestinian question

Countess Constance markievicz as a captain in the rish Citizen Army.

2018 should be year women are afforded ‘high place in the councils’ of a free Ireland

Beggars Bush Military Barracks (formerly the headquarters of the Auxiliary Police) was handed over recently to the Irish Republican Army, amidst scenes of great enthusiasm.

The focus extends to the Civil War and this reveals some of the book's strongest material

The history of Anglo-Irish relations is a reminder of how agreements and phrases can be read in different ways.

Negotiations of 1921 show need for Brexit talks to be built around legal clarity

DUP deputy leader  Nigel Dodds (centre) stands with fellow DUP MPs outside the Houses of Parliament in London thois week. Photograph:   EPA/Neil Hall

By reverting to the ‘Ulster Says No’ sloganeering it may well end up being the big loser

Department of Justice headquarters on St Stephen’s Green: the department should have made the exhibition about the assassination of the State’s first minister for justice, Kevin O’Higgins, public. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Past shows Government not unpractised in contempt for those exposing wrongdoing

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams: Through the 1990s and beyond, his maintenance of control of Sinn Féin and the IRA was a singular achievement.  Photograph: Jack Taylor/Getty

SF revolutionary politics have led party to being open to be FG’s junior partner

 The late Anthony Clare: his last book, “On Men: Masculinity in Crisis”, was published in 2000: he seems to have been remarkably premature in some of his pronouncements as well as being too reductive. Photograph Brenda Fitzsimons

We must hear women’s testimonies now because we have underestimated how deep the abuses went

Dublin, 1968: the 10-child Murphy family, whom the corporation moved into a slum on Benburb Street after Mrs Murphy fell behind on her rent.  Photograph: Mirrorpix via Getty

Diarmaid Ferriter: Politicians’ threats have never meant much in practice

Halloween bounty: 45 chocolate bars, 10 packets of chocolate buttons, 17 packets of jellies . . . Photograph: Getty

The Irish Heart Foundation puts it simply: ‘Stop targeting children’

A  report of an Amnesty International mission to the Irish Republic in 1977 examined 28 cases relating to the period April 1976 to May 1977, and referred to maltreatment of those in custody by detectives

Some disturbing practices flourished when Cosgrave’s government was in office

A demonstrator waves a Catalan separatist flag in Madrid, Spain. Photograph: Paul Hanna/Reuters

Republicans have a long history with Catalan nationalists, despite their significant differences

Liam Cosgrave was dismissive of “verbal patriotism” being accepted as the “highest form of political martyrdom” and as Conor Cruise O’Brien pointed out, he disliked the school of oratory he called “dying for Ireland”. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Vote on contraception backed up reputation for having ‘deeply pious old head on young shoulders’

During his journalistic travels, Fergal Keane faced his own battles to make sense of war and its impact on him and is admirably frank about their toll

Diarmaid Ferriter on ‘Wounds: a memoir of war and love’ by Fergal Keane

Stormont: the Northern Ireland Assembly has not sat for eight months. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty

Diarmaid Ferriter: Even with Brexit looming both sides opt for hand-holding

Soundbitten: Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Diarmaid Ferriter: We’re in for more of the same. The human cost will be devastating

National Army troops at Ordnance Barracks, Mulgrave Street, Limerick, 1922. Photograph: Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

Diarmaid Ferriter: This book distills a huge range of perspectives in an accessible format

A letter from WB Yeats to his  friend and first lover, Olivia Shakespear, featuring the poem “After Long Silence”,   is displayed at the Yeats: The Family Collection exhibition at the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin.  Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images for Sotheby’s

There is no more appropriate place for the Yeats papers than the National Library

 ‘Class and ideology have clearly always been central to Irish housing policy.’ Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Governments have the desire to solve housing issues, but refuse to face down vested interests

“The rain here is absolute, magnificent, and frightening,” said Heinrich Böll. Above, 2014 flooding in Cork. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The line about the Public Services Card is part of a grand Irish tradition

Ben Brosnan beside the smashed Civil War Monument at Talbot’s Bridge in Knocknagoshel: such actions invite a simplistic, polarised narrative of conflicts and aftermaths, and create amnesia about how myths were fashioned.   Photograph: John Reidy

Conflict constructs societies and we must respect statues that articulate history

After defeat in the 1973 election, Lynch adopted a hands off approach to leading the opposition, which, to his critics, was born of an intellectual laziness.

Pluralism was a strength but he never pushed himself – or others – hard enough

Johnny Healy Rae, son of Danny Healy Rae, on the bonnet of a jeep with Michael and Danny Healy Rae during the first meeting of the 32nd Dáil at Leinster House. Photograph: Alan Betson

Liam Weeks’s overview of Independent politics since 1922 rectifies a long-standing neglect

Kevin Myers with Michael O’Leary at the launch of the former’s memoir, ‘A Single Headstrong Heart’, last year. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Kevin Myers, Brian Cowen and fairy forts – my holiday listening was a revelation

Will the changing of the guard herald a more serious approach to meeting our emissions targets? Photograph: Barbara Lindberg

The Taoiseach should define climate change as the most important challenge we face, because it is

Church and State: Archbishop John Charles McQuaid of Dublin; Cardinal Francis D’Alton; President Sean T O’Kelly; the nuncio, Dr Alberto Levame; the president’s wife, Phyllis O’Kelly; and Taoiseach Éamon de Valera in 1964. Photograph: Dermot Barry

Church, State and Social Science in Ireland review: Peter Murray and Maria Feeney details the church's attempts to control researc(...)

Éamon de Valera with members of the cabinet during the inauguration of the Constitution in 1937. Photograph: Hulton Archive

De Valera and his team created a robust, adaptable and sophisticated document

Minister for Transport Shane Ross. “The grandest panjandrum in contemporary Irish politics.” Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Shane Ross’s Bill will not serve justice and is not designed for balance in decision-making

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan. “Interrogating the commissioner before the Public Accounts Committee has become a political blood sport.” Photograph: Eric Luke

Irish policing is firmly wedded to politics but it has not been a successful marriage

British prime minister Theresa May: before Brexit she predicted “Border controls” if the referendum was carried; now, she speaks disingenuously of a “frictionless” Border. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

Will Theresa May’s newfound interest in Ireland pay dividends?

Nuns and staff at the Mater Hospital await the funeral cortege of president Éamon de Valera in 1975. Photograph: Independent News and Media/Getty Images

Liam Kirwan’s ‘inside’ look is repetitive, hectoring and devoid of nuance or context

The sharp rise in prices and lending raises concerns that another bubble may be forming, according to the OECD. Photograph: Frank Miller

State may be on the verge of a new property collapse as the last one remains unresolved

The founder of the Sisters of Charity said her resource was the “Bank of Divine Providence”. Photograph: iStock

The orders have profited spectacularly at the expense of community welfare

Fine Gael leadership candidate Leo Varadkar during a 5k run in Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Diarmaid Ferriter: Duracell-bunny Fine Gaelers lack philosophical reflection

Kenny did what no other Fine Gael taoiseach has done by winning a second consecutive term in office

Kenny as Taoiseach mostly presided and chaired rather than initiated

Bloodlust and revenge: Members of Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary

Diarmaid Ferriter reviews ‘Havoc: The Auxiliaries in Ireland’s War of Independence’

Trinity College Dublin: O’Malley’s plan, announced in 1967, to merge UCD and TCD was defeated. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Can a university have a soul and be driven by priorities other than rankings?

British prime minister Theresa May and   European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. Anglo-Irish relations are likely to get very fraught in the absence of a shared EU space. Photograph:  Carl Court/Getty Images

With a ‘bloody difficult woman’ negotiating Brexit, Ireland will need to play hardball too

“Up to 1969, St Vincent’s, Stephen’s Green [the original site of the hospital] received a total of £2.1 million and St Vincent’s Hospital, Elm Park, received £3.1 million” from the sweepstake funds.

Sisters of Charity benefited greatly from the sweepstakes yet retain ownership of the hospital

Teachers at all levels have a particular balancing act to perform: to safeguard teachers’ welfare and to promote the interests of those they serve. Photograph: The Irish Times

Teachers subjected to two-tier pay system that is compete antithesis of equality

The tribal sneers of Barry Cowen and the distraction of the Fine Gael leadership issue exemplify why still, in O hEithir’s words, “questions of personality shoulder serious questions off the stage”. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Fianna Fáil’s somersaults on the water issue are as cynical as anything seen in Irish politics

Trade unionist Rosie Hackett was among the women determined to mark the anniversary of the execution of James Connolly.

FAI row shows how female protesters always raise the hackles of the men in charge

Seán Lemass: “He never abandoned the proposition that workers and employers were on the same side, despite appearances,” said Tom Garvin. Photograph: Dermot O’Shea

Minister is wrong: former taoiseach was a hard-working, interventionist politician

Martin McGuinness had a confidence, intelligence and empathy that stood out. But he also had a ruthlessness that was honed in the Derry cauldron of his time. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Ruthless he was, but crude stereotypes do not do justice to the man or the times

Bishop Eamonn Casey at the papal youth Mass in Galway in 1979. Photograph: Peter Thursfield

Former Bishop of Kerry was a highly compartmentalised man in his 1970s heyday

It was always felt by some that being in Europe would help end partition and Brexit has raised the issue again

The British establishment lacked consistency while the Free State washed its hands

Historian Catherine Corless with a list of the names of missing children from the mother and baby home  run by the Bon Secours nuns in Tuam. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

Ireland’s long moral panic led to extraordinary and dehumanising situations

Private army: the East India Company had 260,000 soldiers at the start of the 19th century. Illustration: Ann Ronan Pictures/Print Collector/Getty

Book review: Shashi Tharoor’s angry history of British rule in India is a timely response to empire nostalgia

 Cardinal Desmond Connell  had no truck with what he considered unqualified people speaking about religion. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

There are still powerful bureaucrats in the Vatican who think they know best

British foreign secretary Boris Johnson said the 1916 commemorations ‘struck exactly the right note’. Photograph: Johannes Simon/Getty Images

British foreign secretary’s response to 1916 celebrations betrays an empire mindset

 Kerry Babies tribunal: Protesters outside the Department of Justice on January 29th, 1985 voiced support for the Hayes family  over their treatment  by gardaí and the tribunal.  Photograph: Pat Langan

Latest inquiry recalls State’s controversial handling of Kerry Babies case

’What was created was a health system that became extraordinarily uneven and managerial, with significant regional variations.’ File photograph: Dylan Vaughan

Its history is one of turf wars, appeasing vested interests and scaremongering

Douglas Hyde

Brian Murphy’s book show how Ireland’s first president set the tone for the office

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister for  Rural  Affairs Heather Humphreys  and Minister Dennis Naughton at the launch of the Action Plan for Regional Development : would the Government not be better with a more compact, and so more realistic, plan?  Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

New three-year plan contains too many commitments and not enough priorities

 Ronan Fanning: Many of the issues he addressed in his history writing – especially the extent of independence and interdependence in Anglo-Irish affairs – have an added contemporary resonance because of Brexit.

Irish negotiating about Brexit should look to lessons from history

Key player: TK Whitaker (far right), who died on January 9th, at Dublin Airport in 1967 with Taoiseach Jack Lynch (centre) and Minister for Finance Charles Haughey (second right). Photograph: Jack McManus

TK Whitaker, who has died at 100, said things to ministers that other public servants would not, and his hard-hitting memos often (...)

Fine Gael’s Michael Noonan dismissed criticism over the State’s approach to vulture funds at an Oireachtas Committee on Housing and Homelessness hearing in May 2016.

There is growing resistance to the notion that the sale of people’s debts was necessary

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