Hitler with Nukes?

I had the pleasure of attending the first two days of the MacGill Summer school for the first time this year and listened to some excellent discussions and talks. Friday was headlined by An Taoiseach, Simon Harris who gave a speech and interview proposing to set up a new department of Infrastructural Development to improve the delivery of major infrastructural projects. See report by Mark Hennesy here. He also announced that the Irish Government would not be acceding to the …

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The State of Irish Rugby Union 2024

As the end of a thirteen month 15 man rugby season has arrived, it seems like a good time to review the season as a whole. Although many will point to our failure to get beyond our World Cup quarterfinal glass ceiling and the failure of the Irish provinces to win anything as pointing to a poor season overall, I am a firm believer that the glass is at least half full! First of all, we were the only team …

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Live Blog: Second Test: South Africa 24 Ireland 25 f/t.

An unchanged South African XXIII with the highest number of caps ever faces up against an Ireland team missing 6 world class players – Keenan, Gibson Park, Hansen. Aki, Casey, Sheehan – and with Captain O’Mahony dropped to the bench. On paper there should only be one winner. But Ireland start full of intent against a stout South African defence. Crowley kicks an early penalty for off-side. 0-3 Osborne mistimes a jump while contesting a high ball and concedes a …

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Rugby: Second Test South Africa versus Ireland

brown and white deer on brown field during daytime

Having narrowly lost the first test 27-20 at altitude in Pretoria, the Irish team to play the Springboks in the second and final test in Durban on Saturday at 4.00pm (Irish time) has been announced and contains some interesting changes. Tadgh Beirne has been selected at blind-side ahead of Captain Peter O’Mahony, in what I would consider an overdue change. O’Mahony has been a great leader and servant of Irish rugby, but he is aged almost 35 and has been …

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A more confident unionism could embrace Ireland and the World

Brian Walker has written an impassioned plea for a fresh start under a new Labour government in London and changed leadership in Dublin. While better British Irish relations will be helpful, we also have to look at what has to change within Northern Ireland itself. In the comments he stated that while he was pro-union, he was reluctant to call himself a unionist, because there was too much baggage associated with the term. He also implied you had to be …

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Words mean what the Secretary of State says they mean

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall Humpty Dumpty had a great fall All the king’s horses and all the king’s men Couldn’t put Humpty together again Every now and again there is a debate on Slugger, or indeed elsewhere, about when and why the Secretary of State might call a border poll. Demographic change, changing voting patterns, and the UK’s changing economic and political circumstances are all adduced to determine when that might be. Indeed, Sinn Féin have called on …

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What the UK election result numbers actually say

Sometimes when you analyse the actual numbers of election results, they don’t match up with the popular or media narrative. For instance, Keir Starmer’s “Landslide Victory” with 9,712,011 votes was actually won with almost 600,000 votes less than Corbyn’s humiliating defeat with 10,269,051 votes in 2019. The difference was that Rishi Sunak’s Tories actually got less than half the votes (6,814,469) than Boris Johnson’s did (13,966,454).  So much for “Getting Brexit done”. But contrary to the opinion polls, which consistently …

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Winners and losers in the Irish local and European elections

So what are the long term trends in Irish local election results? Much has been written about the Irish local and European election results, but mostly from a very partisan perspective. There is nothing much wrong with that except that it is very prone to wishful thinking: people see what they want to see and emphasize those aspects which favour their preferred party or political perspective. Thus, David Moane delighted in Sinn Féin’s disappointing results and suggested it heralded the …

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The Ireland squad for the tour to South Africa has been named

black elephant walking on brown sand

Six Ulster players included Forwards: Ryan Baird, Finlay Bealham, Tadhg Beirne, Caelan Doris, Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy, Rob Herring, Cormac Izuchukwu, Oli Jager, Ronan Kelleher, Joe McCarthy, Peter O’Mahony, Tom O’Toole, Andrew Porter, Cian Prendergast, James Ryan, Dan Sheehan, Nick Timoney, Josh van der Flier Backs: Bundee Aki, Caolin Blade, Craig Casey, Jack Crowley, Ciaran Frawley, Robbie Henshaw, Jordan Larmour, James Lowe, Stuart McCloskey, Conor Murray, Calvin Nash, Jimmy O’Brien, Jamie Osborne, Sam Prendergast, Garry Ringrose, Jacob Stockdale   The …

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URC Semi-finals: A disastrous day for Irish rugby.

Live Blog: Bulls 25 Leinster 20 Leinster live on on the edge in the early stages of this match with the Bulls moving the ball wide quickly with some accurate cross-kicking and with a Bulls try disallowed for Ross Byrne being taken out off the ball. Leinster are then lucky to get a penalty at the breakdown but Ross Byrne misses from distance. Petersen is yellow carded for a deliberate knock on and Lowe scores down the blind side. Byrne …

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URC Quarterfinals: Munster and Leinster progress.

football stadium

Ireland have three representatives in the Quarter finals (seeded 1,3, and 6), South Africa two (2 and 5), and Scotland (4), Italy (7) and Wales (8) one apiece. That counts as a good season for Irish rugby even if it is a step down from last year, when all four provinces qualified for the last 8. I’m sure the URC organisers are pleased that at least this season Italy and Wales have one representative in the last 8, having had …

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Leinster 33 Connacht 7; Munster 29 Ulster 24

Leinster 33 Connacht 7 Not surprisingly, after a 100 minute marathon against Toulouse 6 days ago, Leo Cullen made 14 changes to his starting XV, retaining only Osborne at 13 instead of 12. Osborne may relish the opportunity to have a quick recovery from a less than stellar display against Toulouse. Elsewhere, Cullen gives departing players Ruddock, Ed Byrne, Molony, Ala’alatoa and Ngatai a chance to shine one last time before the fans at the RDS. That’s a lot of …

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The United Rugby Championship End Game: The provinces Collide

Leinster need Munster and the Bulls to slip up against Ulster and Challenge Cup winners Sharks to have any chance of topping the table and retaining home advantage to the final. This seems unlikely, as the Sharks have nothing to play for and Munster are in top form. Given their exertions against Toulouse, a win against Connacht can’t even be taken for granted. Leinster will be overtaken by Glasgow if they fail to win with a bonus point as Glasgow …

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European Rugby Cup Final: Leinster Versus Toulouse

European Cup Final: Leinster Versus Toulouse There seems to be an assumption doing the rounds in some quarters that Leinster are more or less entitled to win the European cup, and that any failure to do so will represent a monumental failure of character, coaching, and squad management. There have already been calls for Leo Cullen’s head should Leinster fail to lift the trophy and thus replicate the failure of recent seasons. Not only is this disrespectful of the achievement …

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The end is nigh! Crunch time in the United Rugby Championship

The penultimate round of the URC has some intriguing match-ups and little room for error. The match previews below will be updated with Live Blogs on each of the matches by Sunday morning. Refresh page for updates. Preview: Edinburgh versus Munster: Friday 7.35PM; TG4, Premier Sports Both Edinburgh (7th.) and Munster (3rd.) are in the hunt for the Champions Cup rugby next season and trying to get as high as possible in the play-off seedings with home advantage the big …

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Do the IRFU unfairly promote Leinster dominance in Irish rugby?

One of the hardy annuals which comes up all the time when other club fans discuss Leinster is the unfairly favourable treatment Leinster allegedly get from the IRFU. The main complaint is that while Leinster will have 10 centrally contracted players from next season, Ulster, Munster, and Connacht will only have one apiece. But let’s get real here: You have to be world class to get a central contract if you are at Leinster, while Henderson, Murray, and Earls (prior …

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Ulster, Leinster, Munster, Connacht locked and loaded, plus transfer news.

Match previews and latest transfer news in this post will be updated with match reports later today. All four provinces have picked near full strength sides, allowing for injuries, in preparation for their third last regular season matches in the United Rugby Championship. The table is spectacularly tight right now, and every last point could be crucial in determining who ends up in the 8 play-off places. If the Sharks beat Gloucester in the Challenge Cup final, only the top …

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European Cup Semi-Final Leinster 20 Northampton 17 F/T

Match Preview, with Match Live Blog updates. Once again, Leinster are putting all their eggs in one basket, putting home advantage in the URC knock-out stages at risk for the sake of giving their front-liners a good rest and a good preparation time for their European Cup semi-final against English Premiership leaders Northampton. The squad they sent to South Africa for matches against the Lions and Stormers was made up of squad back-up and academy players and they struggled against …

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Rugby: Irish Provinces close in on URC Quarter Final places.

Once again it’s three bonus point wins out of four for the Irish provinces, with a very much weakened Leinster side once again the odd man out losing to the Stormers in Cape town. Ulster, Munster, and Connacht all played well to gain their hard fought victories in high scoring and entertaining matches. The Leinster set piece was destroyed by the Stormers who did not have to play well to beat a callow Leinster side. Leinster fall back to second …

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Till debt do us part: How goes the Irish Economy in 2024?

A screenshot of a computer screen Description automatically generated

It is generally recognised that the IDA has been one of the most successful state agencies charged with attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) in the world. Less attention has been paid to the outstanding role played by the NTMA in managing Ireland’s national debt. The agency avoided any threat of a sovereign debt default in the 2009-2012 financial crisis and banking crash, thus giving Ireland a very high debt rating and low risk profile as far as creditors were concerned, …

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