Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights


After the Visit, the greater epiphany?

Sat 12 April 2014, 12:28am

Tweet What we saw in Windsor Castle this week was a delayed act of official reconciliation that should have taken place fifty years ago but was held up by the Troubles. It was in reality the unfinished business of closing a sequence of turmoil that began over a century ago, whose shadow is finally lifting […] more »

Faint echoes from Ukraine reach home

Wed 19 March 2014, 10:25am

Tweet From Timothy Garton Ash’s piercing analysis in the Guardian. Start by abandoning the labels “ethnic Ukrainians” and “ethnic Russians”. They mean almost nothing. What you have here is a fluid, complex mix of national, linguistic, civic and political identities. There are people who think of themselves as Russians. There are those who live their […] more »

United Ireland’s struggle against gay rights wins RTE damages

Tue 4 February 2014, 6:45pm

Tweet   Is it defamatory to accuse opponents of same sex marriage of homophobia? Or are they fairly exercising their consciences in declining to recognise equality with heterosexuals?   Irish Times columnists are on opposite sides of an argument which is part of the Republic’s slow emergence into the modern era. Sadly though the columnists haven’t gone […] more »

The Irish archives are a partial model for information retrieval today – if the politicians ever let it happen

Fri 17 January 2014, 5:09pm

Tweet The release of papers about the rank and file – and the women - of the 1916 Easter Rising should prompt greater depth and detail in the writing of history you might have thought had been well turned over already. But you’d be wrong.  The eminent  historian Diarmaid  Ferriter explains the crucial role of the Bureau […] more »

Despite the Haass setback we are not the prisoners of the past but masters of our own fate

Tue 31 December 2013, 10:22am

Tweet The issues of the Haass process are only the tip of the iceberg. Indeed it might be said that the talks were unlikely to succeed without rigorous challenge and examination of the beliefs and assumptions the parties brought to the table.  Behind the tortuous details of flags, parades and the past are the competing […] more »

Northern Ireland reflections on the “real” Mandela, man and myth

Wed 11 December 2013, 12:21pm

Tweet Hooray. There is still a role for newspapers. The Guardian proves it with their balancing coverage of the early obsequies for Nelson Mandela who it might be thought is one of their natural heroes.   Restoring a human dimension after the hours of adulation and longueurs of 24/7 TV news is Simon Jenkins’ column and […] more »

Trinity academic to become first woman cardinal shock!

Sun 3 November 2013, 6:52pm

Tweet No, Not Crocodile Dundee’s soon to be ex -wife but the vice provost of Trinity College Dublin. A real Sunday flyer From the Sunday Times (£) SHE may be a woman, married, a feminist and only 49, but an Irish theologian called Linda Hogan is being tipped as the Vatican’s first lady in red. […] more »

The Glenanne story proves the time for frank admissions is overdue: further prevarication over collusion implies Briitsh government cover-up

Thu 24 October 2013, 11:40am

Tweet Like most of the atrocities of the Troubles the story of the Glenanne gang isn’t unfamiliar  Suzanne Breen for one gave a detailed account of the 1976 Kingmills and Reavey brothers  massacres in January 2011 based it would seem on  “ imminent” HET reports. Of the Reavey murders she stated as a matter of established […] more »

The decline of traditional patriotism in Britain and Ireland

Sat 21 September 2013, 10:17pm

Tweet Remember the great closing episode of Blackadder from the trenches of the Great War where the artful dodger meets his nemesis at last   : “ We need a futile gesture?” The “futile gesture” being that he was to lead his men over the top to be mown down by the German machine guns.  But […] more »

More on the trend of reconciliation in the decade of commemoration

Sun 25 August 2013, 1:21pm

Tweet   Stephen Collins writes in the Irish Times:   So far the decade of commemoration for the great events spanning the 1912 to 1922 period that led to Irish independence has been marked in a similar spirit or reconciliation and compromise. The tens of thousands of Irish men who fought in the first World […] more »

The Maze is part of a shared past

Sat 24 August 2013, 12:41am

Tweet Malachi O’Doherty is magnificently right.  The best result for the Maze project would have been/ still should be  to provide  an unsparing and comprehensive account of the Troubles, murders, conspiracies and weasel politics, including the narratives without which it is a meaningless recitation of horror. Conflict resolution could come in the last gallery just before […] more »

Hesitant moves towards Anglo-Irish understanding in the State papers of 30 years ago

Thu 1 August 2013, 10:54am

Tweet The release of British State papers for 1983 as reported by John Bew in the Irish Times reveals the rocky road at the beginning of the journey towards the Anglo-Irish agreement of 1985. Thatcher was irritated by FitzGerald’s preachiness as he tried to build some trust after Haughey’s disastrous first administration.  While FitzGerald was deeply frustrated […] more »

How Stands the Republic? Grim verdicts at the MacGill summer school

Tue 30 July 2013, 5:57pm

Tweet   During a visit to tropical Donegal a couple of weeks ago I picked up from Johnny Boyle in the Highlands Hotel this year’s programme for the Patrick MacGill summer school in Glenties, now just under way.  Instead of the usual summer school  diet of history, literature and nostalgia, for several years now,  in […] more »

Let’s praise David Cameron for creating a brilliant showcase

Wed 19 June 2013, 5:30pm

Tweet First of all there was the simple pleasure at Lough Erne looking wonderful, an English friend saying  “didn’t Enniskillen look beautiful” and even the rain staying off, mostly.  I admit I was chuffed to see Jon Snow presenting lakeside “fresh in from Iran.. on a beautiful Fermanagh evening.” And never mind Obama. Unfashionable as […] more »

If Ireland north and south can commemorate the First World War together, so should the Germans alongside the wartime Allies

Wed 12 June 2013, 11:03am

Tweet A piece in the Indy by Matthew Norman on the UK’s plans to commemorate World War 1 has to be read quite carefully to register the satire against the (English) Culture secretary’s smiley  moral equivalence approach to the vexed issue of war guilt. Were the Germans the clear aggressors or “were we all to blame?” […] more »

End now the old pretence that we want to deal with the past

Thu 23 May 2013, 11:40am

Tweet Another conference, another raking over old ground?  Perhaps – but the DPP Barra McGrory made an interesting speech  at the well-cast transitional justice conference in Belfast. “I think society has got to make a choice. Either it decides now to go down the route, the very difficult route, of determining that we are going […] more »

Flaws in Enda Kenny’s case on abortion exposed as the hierarchy brings out the ex factor

Sun 19 May 2013, 12:52pm

Tweet The next Catholic primate of Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin has told the Sunday Times( £ ) “You cannot regard yourself as a person of faith and support abortion,” Martin said in an interview with The Sunday Times. “You cannot believe you are with your church and directly help someone to procure an abortion. This […] more »

The struggle for abortion and other reform north and south is far from over

Sat 4 May 2013, 9:17am

Tweet John O Neill identifies the interesting paradox that while abortion and civil marriage  appears to have  united north and south Catholic and mainstream Protestant politicians, it’s the all- Ireland parties, above all Sinn Fein or elements of it , that have making the “progressive” case. Not that the advocacy has been clear or consistent, as […] more »

Is demonising Mrs Thatcher over the hunger strike also being laid to rest?

Sun 14 April 2013, 9:35pm

Tweet   It was said of the republican “long war “ – (was it by Danny Morrison? – if not it ought to have been) – that one death in Britain was worth about 20 –  or 100? in Northern Ireland.   The corollary is that one of the lessons repeated in the welter of Thatcher […] more »

Meath East: We’ve seen it all before

Fri 29 March 2013, 5:04pm

Tweet Irish by-elections, by and large, are a bit of harmless fun. The outcome rarely influences the balance of forces in parliament, but it gives the voters a chance to give the incumbent party – whatever incumbent party – a good shoeing. Everyone feels better about themselves except whatever hapless candidate has been persuaded to […] more »

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