British prime minister Boris Johnson speaking  in the House of Commons, London.  Photograph: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA Wire

British politics today is poisoned by Brexiteers inept in the art of statecraft

Beatrice Blyth, right, of the Liverpool Vigilance Association, a group of housewives organised to fight vice, greets new arrivals from Ireland in May 1958.  Ann Hughes (18), Noreen Byrne (18) Rose Maguire (19) and Irene Mullen (19) all from Dundalk, Co Louth,  were bound for London to train as nurses. Photograph:  Charlie Owens/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

Diarmaid Ferriter on Catherine Dunne’s reissued An Unconsidered People

In the aftermath of the EEC membership referendum  then taoiseach Jack Lynch tentatively suggested “the whole Irish problem” would become “in a certain sense, a European problem as well as an Anglo-Irish one”.

European Union vocal and financially generous in support of peace process

Armed anti-Treaty members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Grafton Street, Dublin during the Irish Civil War. Photograph:  Walshe/Getty Images Armed anti-Treaty members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Grafton Street, Dublin during the Irish Civil War. Photograph:  Walshe/Getty Images

Part of the challenge of this year’s centenary is to confront the silences around 1922

A computer generated impression of the new National Maternity Hospital. The State is facilitating ownership of a publicly funded hospital by a private company with the site being leased.

Plenty of reminders on church power, especially when it came to women’s welfare

Politicians of a particular stripe can return content to their constituencies this weekend, satisfied they have shown ‘them up in Dublin’. File photograph: Getty

Amid the mock horror among rural politicians, issue of global warming fails to register

The State and community need to mobilise in unison to fairly, but without denial, transform the approach to fuel to meet 21st century emergencies. File photograph: Getty

A notable level of double speak exists about measures needed to tackle climate change

Russian president Vladimir Putin will not get the imperialist vindication he craves, a frustration that has hardened his resolve to settle down for an exhaustive war of attrition.  Photograph: Evgeny Biyatov/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Bloodlusting Russian leader reveres strength regardless of human toll

Arthur Griffith must surely rate as an unsung hero of the Irish struggle for independence. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Working-class Dubliner did not fall in combat but covered for others at crucial times

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald: It is a wild exaggeration to suggest conversations about unity “are happening in every corner of our island. In every town. In every village. In every city. North and South.”  Photograph: Sinn Féin/PA

Despite SF claim to speak of little else, call for unity weakens before tax and symbols

Sampling of archival records suggests up to 20,000 people may have been affected by illegal birth registrations. Photograph: Tom Honan

Investigation model has proven too lengthy, legalistic and cautious

 Ivana Bacik: The soon-to-be-appointed Labour Party leader.  Photograph:  Niall Carson/PA Wire

Party’s history and contribution, collectively, amount to something substantial

Sean Lemass (left) with Eamon  de Valera. In 1962, with Ireland seeking EEC membership,   Lemass was clear: “We recognise that a military commitment will be an inevitable consequence of our joining the Common Market.” Photograph: Paddy Whelan

State championed nuclear non-proliferation and contributed to peacekeeping missions

A boy holds the Ukrainian flag as he waits for a train on a platform at Kyiv’s main railway station on Wednesday. As the physical foundations are razed in Ukraine, the ideological foundations will harden, making the barbarous imperialist Putin’s dream further out of reach. Photograph: Sergei Chuzavkov/AFP via Getty Images

Stripping the country of its right to be other than a buffer is a trouncing of its dignity

Liu Yunshan, a member of the central politburo standing committee of the Chinese Communist Party, at the official laying of the foundation stone of the UCD Confucius Institute. File photograph: The Irish Times

Academics entitled to be concerned over extent of Chinese government influence

There have been many plans and promises for reform of the Seanad over the decades. File photograph: Alan Betson

Forum for anything but ‘other voices’ could become a permanent citizens’ assembly

Debates about Irish defence policy and neutrality have been infrequent and ambivalent, and they need to be louder.   Photograph:  Niall Carson/PA Wire

Commission on the Defence Forces lays bare the consequences of neglect and underspending

Éamon de Valera envisaged an Ireland in which ‘firesides would be forums for the wisdom of serene old age’. Photograph: General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

Aims of De Valera for old-age pension remain attractive and laudable

The cost of living, lack of supply and inflation in relation to housing, for example, illuminate sharp disparities between the middle class and working class.

Soldiers of Destiny unlikely to charm both sides of political divide: the winners and losers

Osgur Breatnach: was wrongly convicted of the Sallins mail train robbery. He is still waiting for an apology for what he suffered because of what he termed in 2018 “a very strong culture in there . . . one of Blue Omerta”. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Apologies long overdue to those who suffered egregious behaviour of gardaí in 1970s

Sculptor Aidan Harte with his bronze statue of the Púca

‘Sinister’ sculpture of pagan mythological figure will now not be erected in Clare town

Free State army troops march into Victoria Barracks, Athlone, in February 1922, after the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. Photograph: Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Too easy to take a simplistic hero-and-villain view of those on both sides of the debate

The Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed in December 1921. Photograph: Enda O’Dowd

Catholic bishops gave treaty crucial backing in Christmas day homilies

Former taoiseach Jack Lynch: In the early 1970s, when asked what he would do if Northern Ireland was handed to him on a plate, he allegedly replied “I would faint”.

Little dialogue on pragmatics of North and South joining back together

Finola Cassidy, spokeswoman for the  Irish Thalidomide Association,  10 years ago said: ‘I just hate that we have had to dig so deep to get what is only right and fair.’  Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Government’s delay in drug recall could be responsible for up to 50% of injuries here

Bertie Ahern’s Sunday Times reference to Haughey’s ‘working-class values that were instilled in him growing up’ would be laughable if it was not so offensive. File photograph: The Irish Times

New biography devotes more attention to family rejection of Moriarty contents than to findings

August 1989, the 20th anniversary of the outbreak of the Troubles, and in Ballymurphy a republican protester shouts down the barrel of the gun. File photograph: The Irish Times

Chief problem with a UK-commissioned history is not just one of accuracy, but credibility

Edvard Munch’s  Self-Portrait after the Spanish Flu: The painting is deemed to reflect his trauma and survival in 1919 through its  vividly portrayed anguish.

Covid-19 must not be buried in amnesia or our health service failures be forgotten

Austin Currie:  the former northern civil rights leader joined Fine Gael in 1989. He became the party’s presidential candidate and later  a junior minister and remaining a TD until 2002.   Photograph: Philip Fitzpatrick/Collins Photo Agency

Civil rights leader rued lost opportunity of short-lived 1973 powersharing agreement

A deforested area of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil.  Photograph: Mauro Pimentel/AFP via Getty

The necessary action is being stalled by national and sectoral pleading and defiance

Antique colourised photograph of Hyderabad, India. Photograph: Getty Images

There is now a relentless quest to seemingly ‘improve’ original photos and video footage

Contemporary British political ‘Diehards’ have a different battle ground now, and it is Brussels rather than Ulster.

Northern Ireland might be a useful pawn, but for how long and with what consequences?

NGO Transport and Environment: ‘In just over 10 years SUVs went from a peripheral 10% of sales to nearly half of all car sales in Europe today (45%). File photograph: Getty

I roll my eyes when I look at their cost and the notion that they represent sustainability

   Britain’s Brexit minister David Frost: the Northern Ireland protocol needs to be urgently altered, partly because of substantial growth in trade between the North and South. Photograph: Paul Ellis

Diarmaid Ferriter: In 1921 many also thought trade would provide impetus for Irish unity

 Fintan O’Toole insists the book is a not a memoir, and that is true. Photograph: Roberto Ricciuti/Getty Images

Book review: An original and absorbing work underpinned by a profound humaneness

Retired captain Yvonne O’Rourke, Karina Molloy and Capt Diane Byrne of the Women of Honour group, after meeting with Minister for Defence Simon Coveney. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Why does it take a broadcast to prompt a sense of urgency to act upon systemic abuse?

President Michael D Higgins. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Controversy a reminder of changes in perception and style of presidency

Statue of Roger Casement by Mark Richards at the Dún Laoghaire baths: his career is a reminder of the wider context for our revolutionary decade of 1913-1923. Photograph: Peter Cavanagh

Republican’s humanitarianism not obscured by claims of sexual exploitation

This year the CAO issued round-one offers to 55,221 applicants, a measure of the increase in student numbers and third-level options in recent decades

The sense of what constitutes a suitable pathway after the end of second-level education needs to be broadened

Ireland’s pre-famine population was in excess of eight million. File photograph: The Irish Times

Aftermath of coronavirus pandemic and rising numbers should create required urgency

Charles Haughey in 1989: His father’s allegiance to the Free State side was said to have enraged Frank Aiken, and “this greatly influenced Aiken’s detestation of Haughey’s son whom he saw as a “Free Stater” opportunist in Fianna Fáil clothes”.  Photograph Eamonn Farrell/

The war created a generation of lifelong politicians and ultimately shaped Charles J Haughey

December 6th, 1921: The Irish delegation on the day that the Anglo-Irish Treaty forming the Irish Free State and partioning the country was signed. Photograph: Hulton Archive

It will be interesting to see the impact of the shifting of political ground in recent years

‘F**k diplomacy! We’re going to war!’ declared US president George Bush in 2001 before the invasion of Afghanistan. Photograph: Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

9/11 attacks prompted macho posturing from a dim president and started US’s longest war

Decarbonising power generation needs to ‘catalyse an electrification revolution across the country’. File photograph: Getty

Rural electrification challenges are again relevant as we move towards green energy solutions

The assertion this week by Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Dermot Farrell that the “only gathering that seems to cause risk is a parent taking their child to receive a sacrament” was disingenuous. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

Communion comments and persistence of ‘Almighty God’ oath signal link with clergy

Burning of the Custom House: The subsequent truce was marked by celebratory bonfires in Dublin city, reflecting the relief of a war-weary people.

Treaty debate merits more than reduction to democracy versus dictatorship

Collision course? According to Government Ministers, the first they heard of Nphet’s modelling projections was on Monday evening.

Experience of the last year demonstrates clearly that rigid frameworks count for little

The Sisters of Charity were also major beneficiaries of the hospital sweepstakes funds in order to build their hospital on the Elm Park site while the Order insisted at the same time it was only accountable to itself.  Photograph: Sasko Lazarov/

NMH controversy is a legacy of the historic relationship between the Church and state

Shoes left by protesters at a mother and baby homes protest in Phoenix Park, Dublin, in October 2020. Photograph: Tom Honan for The Irish Times

Mother and baby homes commission has struggled to reconcile the two in its report

The Bessborough Centre, Blackrock, Co Cork, a former mother and baby home operated by the Sacred Heart nuns. File photograph: Provision

Women who spent time in these homes led to believe they would finally be listened to

DUP leader Edwin Poots: It is hardly surprising he cut his political teeth in the aftermath of Robert Bradford’s killing given the heat of 1981 and the emotions and violence it engendered. Photograph: Mark Marlow/PA

Past talk of agile unionism has only further fractured the fractious in the North

Eulogising the Irish coastline has served many functions over the decades: to entice visitors from abroad, to evoke sentimental longings for the homeland from Irish emigres and to celebrate a rural, unspoiled hinterland.

An Taisce appeal over Glanbia plant challenges development-first mindset

British prime minister Boris Johnson issued a weasel-worded and incomplete apology    on Wednesday. Photograph: PA Wire

A weasel-worded and incomplete apology to families was finally dragged out of PM

Townshend brings a weight of experience to the task of dissecting the origins and impact of the division of Ireland a century ago. Photograph: Getty Images

Book review: Charles Townshend’s assessment layered and fair, writes Diarmaid Ferriter

Seán Lemass with  Éamon de Valera in 1969. Photograph: Paddy Whelan/The Irish Times

Despite his assertions, the year he left office the housing crisis in Ireland was acute

Mullen Park in Maynooth, Co Kildare, where Round Hill Capital has purchased 135 houses to place on the rental market. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

Diarmaid Ferriter: Thought that ideology on housing would be sidestepped is nonsense

Éamon de Valera: “England is the aggressor. Once the aggression is removed there can be peace. If the aggression and interference is maintained, it will be resisted.”

Mindful of those who suffered, State must consider whether it could have been avoided

The State hopes to vaccinate  82 per cent of the population against Covid-19 by June. Photograph: iStock

Vaccine rollout pledge must be seen in the context of other notable Irish fails

Lee Dunne: Almost all of his  1970s novels were  banned in Ireland. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Like John McGahan he refused to link sexuality to shame

‘Unionist politicians also have a history of using working-class loyalist communities as puppets when they have found themselves running out of political road.’ File photograph: PA

Negotiation still the challenge for unionist leadership and should be the foremost mission

 Pope Francis at the Festival of Families at Croke Park on August 25th, 2018:  “Grappling Catholic” Derek Scally has written a book rich with history, interrogation and emotional intelligence. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty

Derek Scally digs deep to understand rather than condemn collusion and betrayal of faith

Last year was littered with social media-inspired political controversies. Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley found himself making a Dáil statement arising out of his tweets regarding the IRA and Leo Varadkar. Photograph: PA

Diarmaid Ferriter: TDs quick to criticise Twitter and Facebook but they need to look at their own use

Tony Blair used to despair of the self-defined purity of the Orange Order men. Photograph: Kirsty O’Connor/PA Wire

What is needed at very least is a North-South Citizen’s Assembly over the long term

Irish Americans were a prominent part of the last White House administration and will be in the current one, but this “greening” will probably remain largely poetic. Photograph: Chris Kleponis

US foreign policy focused more on China, climate change, Russia and Middle East

Joan Burton, who was adopted, was repeatedly frustrated in her requests for tracing information from St Patrick’s Guild. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The truth of this system must be confronted, but instead the Government plays for time

 A procession  of uniformed Cumann na mBan that paraded to Glasnevin Cemetery carrying four biers representing the four executed Irish Republican leaders. Photograph:  George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images

Book review: By highlighting multiple female experiences, these essays serve to broaden and complicate the narrative of the Irish (...)

Baby shoes: The quests for information, personal identities and accountability for what happened permeate investigations, inquiries and  journalism, but we have yet to find a satisfactory way of resolving the dilemmas. Photograph:  Will Hamilton

Ireland’s commissions and inquiries into institutionalisation are failing survivors

Micheál Martin. The Government seems too preoccupied with surveying how restrictions impact our behaviour while still refusing to offer us a coherent route out of lockdown. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos Dublin

Taoiseach telling us we are ‘remarkably resilient’ is just another example of that

 Loyalist sign  in  Larne,  Co Antrim protesting against the so-called Irish Sea border. Photograph: Stephen Davison

Generating North-South dialogue post-Brexit will be tortuous

The Charles Stewart Parnell statue on O’Connell Street, Dublin. Photograph: Kate Geraghty/The Irish Times

Book review: The chapters of this sprawling volume do not cohere, yet there is much to be admired

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and European Commissioner for Health Stella Kyriakides arrive for a debate on the EU approach to vaccinations. Photograph: Francisco Seco/AP Photo

Vaccine nationalism can only prolong the pandemic and its consequences

British prime minister Boris Johnson: does not have a semblance of coherent intellectual or political commitment to any cause.  Photograph: Stefan Rousseau-WPA

To manage Brexit fallout, unionists must ditch traditional, militant siege tactics

Bridgend village in Co Donegal, the most direct crossing into Derry. Photograph: Eamonn Farrell/

To suggest nothing can be done about it is an awesome admission of political failure

 Archbishop of Dublin John Charles McQuaid arriving at the Pro Cathedral for the funeral of president Sean T O’Kelly in 1966. Photograph: Tommy Collins

His defiant assertions about Irish Catholicism stand as monuments to a damaging delusion

A memorial marks a mass burial site at what was formerly the Bon Secours mother and baby home in Tuam, Co Galway. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Vitriol that emanated from the altar remarkable in its unvarnished hatred

Historically, proponents of vaccinations have always faced obstacles born of contemporary pressures and prejudices. Photograph: Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty   Images

Challenge not just about roll out but convincing people of merits

Attempts to hoist Seamus Heaney on to the commemorative flag for Northern Ireland’s 100th birthday by making him a part of the “branding” of “Our Story in the Making: NI Beyond 100” are inappropriate and distasteful.

Like McGahern and O’Brien, the poet should not be ambushed for commemorations

Taoiseach Micheál Martin and British prime minister Boris Johnson greet each other  at Hillsborough Castle in Belfast. “Economic ties run deep, far deeper than the changing political currents that crash around above them.”  Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Can Britain and Ireland escape a common destiny?

 Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh attending a garden party in Paris in2014.  Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Diarmuid Ferriter: Our appetite for the TV series The Crown shows no sign of dimming

 In 2007, then Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny was presented with a Liam Cosgrave election poster from 1973, watched by local candidate Frances Fitzgerald and his wife Fionnuala. Photograph: David Sleator

Book review: authors benefit from access to key figures but result is too rosy a portrait

Tom Barry, one of the most famous IRA commander during the War of Independence and the mastermind of the Kilmichael Ambush, addresses some of his old comrades at a memorial service in 1966.

New book explores numbers killed by political violence and why they died

After Bloody Sunday November 21st 1920,  the bodies of British officers assassinated in Dublin during the Irish War of Independence are taken back to England for burial. The men were members of British intelligence cell, the Cairo Gang. File photograph: Getty

Backlash left IRA reeling and enhanced British intelligence. Then talk turned to truce

‘Coronavirus restrictions are worth little if North and South continue on divergent paths.’ File photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

Coronavirus restrictions are worth little if North and South continue on divergent paths

The Four Courts: There is nothing straightforward about a showdown between the Oireachtas and a recalcitrant judge. Photograph: Chris Maddaloni/Collins

We have no precedent for the successful impeachment of a judge

Protesters in Portland, Oregon, on the day after the US presidential election vote. Photograph: Kathryn Elsesser/AFP via Getty Images

Even with a narrow Joe Biden victory there will be no neat resolution

Just what constitutes a public as opposed to a private record in relation to our history of institutionalisation?  Photograph: Getty Images

Diarmaid Ferriter: Records of Mother and Baby Home inquiry have raised wider questions about access to archival material

It is obvious that Nphet, dominated by Department of Health and HSE voices, is not representative enough. Will more thought be given now to the suggestion in the Government’s document from June about the governance structures of Nphet that its composition “may change further over time in line with the expertise required across the response”? Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

Government has promised us a slice of Christmas if we improve our ‘behaviour’

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan at a Covid-19 update press conference. There was swift, co-ordinated action in facing foot-and-mouth disease in 2007 but North-South incoherence in facing Covid-19 today. Photograph:  Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

It is absurd that, even with new stricter measures North and South, there is insufficient uniformity

 Dr Tony Holohan: It is highly likely Ireland will move to Level 5. Such will be the enormity of that move and its consequences that the row between Nphet and the Government might fade into the background.  Photograph:  Colin Keegan

Holohan versus Government narrative misplaced as unanimity on plan elusive

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has targeted Mary Lou McDonald’s Sinn Féin as the biggest threat to his party’s future.

Could reviving social partnership resuscitate the ailing catch-all party, wrongfoot FG and see off SF?

In her new memoir Mary McAleese is both Catholic Church insider and outsider. Photograph: Patrick Browne/ The Irish Times

Book review: in Here’s the Story, the former president tells a lot, but not all, about her extraordinary career

Surely the existence of so many advisers is tantamount to a recognition that civil servants are still not given ample scope to initiate. File photograph: Getty

Is there an inbuilt acceptance that Ministers must be surrounded by a cohort of mentors?

Those with power in Downing Street  have no regard for Northern Ireland or the DUP.

Boris Johnson just the latest British poltician to use unionism to advance his own agenda

Covid-19 graph and Prof Philip Nolan: Have we suffered from a lack of consideration given to opinions alternative to those promoted by the  National Public Health Emergency Team? Photograph:  Colin Keegan

Have we focused too narrowly on medical and scientific view of emergency team?

There is reason to believe those running pubs can adapt again if allowed, instead of facing existential crises. Photograph: The Irish Times

The centrality of the pub to Irish life is a cause of celebration and anguish

Former chief justice Susan Denham: asked to undertake a report on the attendance of Supreme Court judge Séamus Woulfe at the Clifden golf dinner. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Separation of powers aside, we expect our Supreme Court judges to use good judgement

Britain’s prime minister Boris Johnson: It is easy for British ministers to dash in and out of Belfast and offer platitudes, but  complications have always followed them. Photograph: Pippa Fowles

North’s creation was admission of defeat and commemoration must be sober

 Inis Mór: Our island communities have to be particularly careful of coronavirus.

Offshore communities have mixed feelings about Covid-19’s geographic access

David Lean films a tempestuous sea on the west coast of Ireland for a climactic scene in the MGM film Ryan’s Daughter. Photograph: Archive Photos/Getty

Paul Benedict Rowan’s book does David Lean and most of the 1970 movie’s cast no favours

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