“We’d be the traditional crowd, we never changed” – An interview with the only elected dissident republican in the Republic of Ireland

The story of how Sinn Féin left the path of violence and entered mainstream politics is well-known, but what about those who never accepted the compromises? One such group is Republican Sinn Féin, which split off in 1986 rather than recognise the Dáil as the legitimate parliament of Ireland. The party is on the margins of Irish politics and holds the distinction of being the only party in the 26 counties that opposed the Good Friday Agreement.

Yet it is not completely without support and does have one elected representative. Tomás Ó Curraoin was first elected to Galway County Council in 2009 and re-elected in 2014 and 2019, representing the district of Connemara South. He’s an old-fashioned man who admits “I don’t have a computer; I can’t work it and I haven’t a clue even about turning it on.” He left school at 13 and spent 17 years in England working as a manual labourer.

Continue reading ““We’d be the traditional crowd, we never changed” – An interview with the only elected dissident republican in the Republic of Ireland”

I’m the only one with a mask at an anti-mask protest

There’s more flags than masks here. Half a dozen Irish flags, just in case we forget which country we’re in. A banner is unfurled “Only slaves wear masks”.  As the only person wearing a mask in this crowd of 50 outside the GPO, I stand out. A woman takes up a microphone and starts speaking about taking back control. For no particular reason she shouts “Up the Ra! And I mean the Real IRA, not those other messers!” Three gardaí (wearing masks) wander over but the speaker shouts them down. Soon the whole crowd is chanting “We have no contract with you!” (which they believe means they don’t have to obey the gardaí) until they leave. I don’t know what I’ve gotten myself into.

Continue reading “I’m the only one with a mask at an anti-mask protest”

Brexit Is A Disorganised Mess – But A United Ireland Would Be Even Worse

Brexit was supposed to be simple. All Britain had to do was tell the European Union they were leaving, sign a few forms and be done. It shouldn’t take more than a few weeks. Then Britain would be able to celebrate it new freedom and prosperity now that the shackles of foreign oppression have been removed. Of course, we all know that it hasn’t worked out like that. Three years after the vote and Britain is still in the EU but facing down unprecedented political instability and what economists warn could be an economic disaster. Negotiations proved to be far more complicated than anyone on the Leave side had imagined and the situation is bogged down in endless talks.

Many Irish people are delighted over the situation, seeing this as a modern example of the old nationalist slogan “Britain’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity”. Many hope the political instability and economic uncertainty will finally push Northern Ireland out of the UK and into the Republic. The prospect of a united Ireland is no longer being treated as a utopian dream but instead as a realistic possibility.

However, I fear a united Ireland would end up repeating the mistakes of Brexit and similarly end up as a disorganised mess. There has been no planning for a united Ireland and no one, not even Sinn Féin, knows what it would look like. There is an assumption that we will just tell the Brits to leave and then sit back and enjoy our new freedom and prosperity now that the shackles of foreign oppression have been removed. It shouldn’t take more than a few weeks, right? Continue reading “Brexit Is A Disorganised Mess – But A United Ireland Would Be Even Worse”

There isn’t a single good argument for keeping the electoral college

There are many political debates ongoing in America of various intensity and value. However, the most one sided and clear cut is that regarding the electoral college. This archaic and bizarre system is undemocratic and serves no useful purpose. I considered writing an article on the topic years ago, but I figured the reasons for its abolition were so obvious that there was no need.

So, imagine my surprise reading the various attempts to defend the electoral college and claims it actually serves a useful purpose. The most striking thing about these arguments is how awful and illogical they are. I know it’s not polite to insult people who disagree with you, but some arguments are so awful that there’s no point treating them seriously. Some of the defences are so bad they make it clear the speaker has no idea how politics work. Continue reading “There isn’t a single good argument for keeping the electoral college”

Is the education system really to blame for our poor level of Irish?

Every discussion of the Irish language follows the same weary, repetitive track. No matter how the conversation begins, sooner or later, the education system gets blamed. That is why we don’t speak Irish – because it wasn’t taught right to us. The teachers failed to show the beauty of Gaeilge and cultivate a love of the language in their students. If only we could find the right way of teaching Irish, then we’d all be fluent.

But I’ve always been sceptical of this excuse. Continue reading “Is the education system really to blame for our poor level of Irish?”

Inside the Mind of the Alt-Right – Review of “The Strange Death of Europe”

The Strange Death of Europe by Douglas Murray is a strange, sensational and almost hysterical book. The very first line is “Europe is committing suicide” and the core premise of the book is that European culture and Western values are being killed by a combination of Islamic immigrants and guilt ridden liberals. Yet unfortunately this is a viewpoint that has been spreading lately with the rise of the alt-right and has some appeal to people fearful of Islam and angry at political correctness. So, I thought I try something a bit different and review a book that promotes an essentially alt-right view. Continue reading “Inside the Mind of the Alt-Right – Review of “The Strange Death of Europe””

A United Ireland Must Not Replace British Imperialism With Irish Imperialism

Nation-state: A country which consists of one people/ethnic group

Empire: A country where one ethnic group dominates others

Multinational state: A country which consists of several ethnicities without any one dominating

In most discussions about a United Ireland, the focus is on Northern Ireland and how it would change society there. Southerners generally view the issue as something for Northerners to decide as it will primarily affect them. However, little thought is given to how a United Ireland would fundamentally change the Republic of Ireland and how we view ourselves as Irish people. We must consider this issue very carefully because if we make the wrong choice we could end up repeating the mistakes of the past, but this time with the roles reversed. Continue reading “A United Ireland Must Not Replace British Imperialism With Irish Imperialism”

Multiculturalism Is Unavoidable

Now and again you see complaints about multiculturalism and articles that claim: “Multiculturalism has failed”. But this doesn’t really make sense because multiculturalism can’t fail, it’s unavoidable. Every country in the world is (and almost always was) multicultural and a monocultural society is practically impossible. Every part of our society contains influences from other cultures. Continue reading “Multiculturalism Is Unavoidable”

Lessons from the Marriage Referendum for the Abortion Referendum

For months the wheels have been slowly turning in preparation for the abortion referendum and soon the campaign will kick off fully. It will likely bear some similarities with the Marriage Equality referendum of 2015, so I think it’s crucial to study the lessons of the last referendum if we want to repeat its success in the next one. Both issues are heavily influenced by the position of the Catholic Church and the No side will again be led by Catholic groups like the Iona Institute. The vote will be split on similar lines, with older and rural people more likely to vote No. Here are some lessons I learned from canvassing for a Yes vote that I think are applicable to the next referendum. Continue reading “Lessons from the Marriage Referendum for the Abortion Referendum”

Not Even Sinn Féin Are Prepared For A United Ireland

Due to the rising number of Catholics as a share of Northern Ireland’s population and the possible ramifications of Brexit, there has been an increased pushed for a border poll, especially by Sinn Féin. A United Ireland, long a nationalist dream, for at least a hundred if not a thousand years (depending on how you view history) might actually become a reality. But despite the wishes and efforts of nationalists, there seems to be very little idea of what a United Ireland would look like. How would the Republic deal with the expansion? Can we afford to pay for it? How will we deal with an ethnic minority who may not recognise the state? Continue reading “Not Even Sinn Féin Are Prepared For A United Ireland”