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


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 the programme’s own words –  “ especially since the sudden and brutal fall of the Celtic Tiger, the MacGill School has focused on reform of the institutions of the state – political, social and economic. And as the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising approaches, what better time is there to look at the republic which came about as a result of that event. “

“ How Stands the Republic?” is a comprehensive agenda for reviewing the  state of the Irish nation . Browse the agenda for yourself and join me in picking up reports in the Irish Times and elsewhere.

Diarmaid  Ferriter

The Government’s push to abolish the Seanad, rather than to seek reform of it, seemed to be a “grubby power-grab..  Those who seek to abolish the Seanad should be asked a simple question – have you learnt nothing about the dangers and consequences of the excessive centralisation and abuse of power in this State?”

“One of the chief causes of the contemporary crisis is the absence of alternative views and insufficient scrutiny of flawed decision-making,

, thejournal,ie

Eoghan Murphy  and he’s a Fine Gael TD!

The new people in politics will get frustrated and they will walk away and the ones who remain will eventually and unfortunately… be broken by the system and eventually forget why they got involved. Twenty or thirty years down the line we risk losing it all again

and of course  Fintan O’Toole

Partition, which was both inevitable and tragic, and produced perhaps two failed states, he said. “The North failed in obscene violence but the South failed in a slower fashion and the southern State has also lost legitimacy.”

He urged the summer school to look at the three pillars of democratic government and he suggest each was failing.

“The Dáil is not a legislature; it doesn’t initiate legislation, it is poor in its ability at accountability and it has got worse since the start of this crisis.

“Secondly, the legal system, which gets away with more than most. It has failed in relation to the crimes which have done most damage to society.

“No bishop has been prosecuted for facilitating child rape. There is systemic corruption of the planning system. There is complete failure of the justice system. People are not individually corrupt but there is systemic failure.”

All of then spoke after the Taoiseach’s opening address  but a more agile  mind might have done more to anticipate the avalanche of criticism than the boilerplate he offered.

In a few short months, Ireland will be the first Eurozone country to successfully emerge from a bailout programme. That will be an important moment for our country for many reasons, not least because to be a real republic, Ireland must be a sovereign republic.

Now is a good time to reflect on the sometimes painful steps we have already taken to retrieve our economic sovereignty, the challenges that remain; and the changes we need to make to ensure that our country will never be in this position again.

On my election as Taoiseach I set out my vision of this Republic.

That by the centenary of the 1916 Rising we can prove to world that we can be the best small country in the world in which to do business, to raise a family and to grow old with dignity and respect.


Not  a bad warm up for the rest of the week. Can the Coalition pull the  usual trick of politicians  and write off criticism as the ravings of mere intellectuals?

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London