Why Ireland Should Become A Secular Republic

There was a time when Ireland was for all practical purposes, a Catholic state. Divorce, homosexuality, abortion and contraceptives were all illegal. Books and films had to be approved by a censorship board which banned anything that was contrary to Catholic teaching (which turned out to be a lot). The Church ran almost all schools, hospitals as well homes for “fallen women” and forgotten children. Acting contrary to Catholic teaching meant shame and banishment. The state was guided by Catholic principles to such an extent that it was hardly noticed or commented on. That was just the way things were. Continue reading “Why Ireland Should Become A Secular Republic”

Could The Far-Right Be Successful In Ireland?

Across the West there has been a growth in support for the far-right and a surge in the number of votes they’ve received. New Fascist political parties have been increasing in size and influence and even the mainstream conservative parties have been pulled further right. Anti-immigrant sentiment can be seen in the Brexit referendum, the election of Donald Trump and the threat of Marine Le Pen.

So far Ireland has stayed completely clear of this rising tide. There is no New Fascist presence here and little anti-immigrant activity. There have been attempts to create a far-right party (Identity Ireland and the National Party) but neither of them got off the ground. A google search shows that their party launch was their only activity. Out of all the candidates in the 2016 general election, only a single one could be called far-right and he only received 183 votes.

So is Ireland safe? Does the far-right simply have no appeal here? Is there something about Irish society or politics that prevents the extremists from being popular? Or are we just as susceptible as the rest of the West and might one day too have to face far-right extremism? Can it happen here? Continue reading “Could The Far-Right Be Successful In Ireland?”

Why I Hope There Never Is A United Ireland

For generations the goal of Irish nationalists has been a 32 county United Irish Republic where the whole island is free of British rule. In theory all Irish political parties support this, even if there isn’t much they can do about it. With the centenary celebration of the 1916 Rising (and the War of Independence soon to come) there has been a celebration and an examination of national pride. In Northern Ireland, higher birth rates means that the number of Catholics is catching up with the number of Protestants and may soon over take it. This has led to a number of people to suggest that a United Ireland may soon happen.

However, the thought of a United Ireland doesn’t fill me with patriotism and I don’t see it as something to rejoice. If I was ever given a choice, I would vote against it. This might seem treasonous from someone who was raised as an Irish Catholic but the thought of a United Ireland fills me with dread and were it to ever happen, it could bankrupt the Republic of Ireland. A United Ireland would lead to crippling taxes, drastic reduction in services, widespread unrest and a return to the violence of the Troubles. Continue reading “Why I Hope There Never Is A United Ireland”

Uncomfortable Questions About The 1916 Easter Rising

Today is a day of celebration in Ireland. A hundred years ago today, Irish rebels rose up against British rule and declared an Irish Republic (Although technically they did this in Easter 1916, which fell at the end of April). This is a little unusual because in Ireland we don’t really do patriotism like other countries, we don’t even an Independence Day. It is also unusual because the rebellion failed and the proclaimed Irish Republic was crushed within a week. But Irish history isn’t like other histories, it’s not a collection of successes and victories. Instead our heroes are noble failures, almost always defeated, but in a brave and proud way. Continue reading “Uncomfortable Questions About The 1916 Easter Rising”

Have We Learned Nothing From The Crisis?

Do you remember 2007? The economy was booming (or so we were told) and the government was swaggering. This was all due to their wisdom and excellent management they told us. Don’t throw it away, they told us, by electing that other crowd, or even worst still, those leftists who might try to regulate the property market. There is was no debate over whether the property boom was sustainable or if the banks were properly regulated. Those who questioned if all parts of society were benefiting or if the government really knew what it was doing were dismissed as moaners. Questions over whether giving tax cuts so that people could buy bigger houses was the best use of resources were ignored. The system was working so don’t question it. Continue reading “Have We Learned Nothing From The Crisis?”

Social Democrats Manifesto: It’s No Bernie Sanders

Between Bernie Sanders strength in the American Democratic primaries and Jeremy Corbyn becoming leader of the British Labour Party, there has been a surge for left wing politicians challenging the establishment. In Ireland, following the Labour Party’s embrace of austerity, there is a gap in the market for a centre-left party and the Social Democrats aim to fill this. Continue reading “Social Democrats Manifesto: It’s No Bernie Sanders”

Renua Manifesto Review: Vague Buzzwords Brought To You By Fox News

The Dáil has been dissolved and the campaign for the 32nd Dáil has begun. It’s easy to get lost in the media-spin, tribalism and parochialism. So I thought I’d try and clear this up by analysing the policies (not personalities) of each party by reviewing their manifesto. Trying to describe the views of any Irish political party is like trying to square a circle and first on the list, Renua, is no exception. In fact it’s hard to see what the party stands for. Seeing as it was formed from TDs who resigned from Fine Gael in protest at the abortion bill, you would expect them to be an anti-abortion party perhaps aiming for a social conservative vote like that which opposed the Marriage Referendum. After all, they are endorsed by David Quinn. However, abortion isn’t mentioned a single time in the manifesto, nor is any other social issue for that matter. Continue reading “Renua Manifesto Review: Vague Buzzwords Brought To You By Fox News”