The last thing Sinn Féin want is to let the DUP off the hook they have impaled themselves on…

a pink building with stairs and a door

Newton Emerson has an article up on the Irish Times about Sinn Féin ’s confused approach to the current Northern Ireland political impasse. He accuses Michelle O’Neill of trying to contort reality into an archaic Republican world view during her current trip to Washington. Apparently, according to Emerson’s view of Sinn Féin , the problem is the British, and specifically the Tory, failure to put sufficient pressure on the DUP to force their return to operating the institutions of the …

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Ireland 2023 Rugby World Cup Squad selected…

Andy Farrell has announced his 42 man training squad for the world cup, and true to form, has not been afraid to make some hard choices. The dominant theme is one of loyalty to the players who have enabled Ireland win a Grand Slam and maintain their place at the top of the world rankings. I had expected Munster’s outstanding form in recent weeks to have more of an impact, but in the event some of Munster’s outstanding performers – …

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A response to Andy Pollak’s post about the southern media…

two people wearing black jackets sitting on floor

My friend Andy Pollak has written long and eloquently about the ignorance of the southern electorate of all things north of the border, and delights in quoting academics who share this view. Academic disdain for the ignorance of the masses is, of course, nothing new, but in fairness, Andy’s latest treatise on Slugger O’Toole on the ignorance of the southern media could only have been written by an insider who knows the industry well. As someone who has never been …

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Rugby: Leinster’s demise and Munster’s hope…

Leinster have been hailed by many as the world’s best club rugby team for some time now, an assessment which failed to take account of their failure to win a European Cup for 5 years, which is half a professional rugby player’s average lifetime. True, they were beaten by a last minute try in the final in Marseilles last year, and La Rochelle were again twice within the width of a post of losing this year. Munster also required a …

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Ireland 2023 Rugby World Cup Squad…

football stadium

So based on recent form and past experience, who are the players in contention to make Andy Farrell’s world cup extended training squad and, more importantly, the final 33 man squad itself? My favourites for the 33 Man squad are listed in bold. Players likely to make the extended training squad are listed in ordinary type face. Possibilities on the fringes are listed in italics. Players who have dropped out of contention due to injury, movement abroad, selectorial preference or …

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United Rugby Championship Semi-Finals preview…

The achievement of all four Irish provinces qualifying for next season’s European Cup and making the knock-out stages of the URC is not to be underestimated. That three should also make the Semi-finals of the URC is an extraordinary achievement. South Africa supply the sole interloper in the Champions Stormers, who take on Connacht in Cape town. Glasgow are in the Challenge Cup final but for every other club in the URC, the season is already over. It is an …

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NATO and Irish unity…

a bunch of bullet like objects on a blue background

Journalists, politicians, and political writers have a tendency to project their own political preferences onto their visions for the future, and nowhere is this more evident than when Irish writers express their visions for a united Ireland. Fintan O’Toole and Andy Pollak have frequently lamented the state of Irish society and vented their feelings about how things must change, allegedly to accommodate unionists, but in reality, to satisfy their own political preferences. Former TD, MEP, and government Minister, Gay Mitchell …

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A Rugby Clean Sweep to rival the Grand Slam – URC Round 17 Review…

man holding rugby ball

Ulster 40 Dragons 19 Lions 36 Leinster 39 Stormers 24 Munster 26 Connacht 38 Cardiff 19 The Irish provinces have won clean sweeps in the URC and its previous incarnations before, but never a clean sweep, all with try bonus points, since the advent of the South African franchises. Indeed, victories in South Africa have been as rare as hen’s teeth – this was Leinster’s first – and let us not forget the Stormers are the reigning URC champions. So …

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The Irish government will pay a heavy price for housing failures…

black car on road during sunset

As a recent poll showed, Fine Gael lost the room when it ended the eviction ban. In fact, it lost the whole house. It bet the mortgage on private landlords re-entering the market if the eviction ban was lifted. In reality, private landlords can’t exit the market quickly enough when the opportunity comes. There is more money to be made in short-term lets through Airbnb or selling into the swollen property market. The Government has a fundamental responsibility to provide …

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European Cup Rugby Review – the sharp end of the season approaches…

The last few weeks since Ireland’s historic fourth grand slam have showcased both the strengths and weaknesses of Irish Rugby. Leinster seem to march inexorably on to either or both the European Cup and URC titles, although nothing can ever be taken for granted in sport. However, Ulster, Munster and Connacht have all been eliminated from their European Cup competitions and the latter two may struggle to qualify for the European Cup top tier competition next season. It was no …

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What’s Next, After the Slam?

As the immediate emotions die down and the dust settles on Ireland’s great Six Nations Grand Slam, it becomes possible – nay essential – too take a more nuanced and balanced view of what transpired, and more importantly, on what must come next. Firstly, we have to acknowledge the flaws in our own performances, if we are to perform even better in the future. We performed brilliantly against Wales and blew them away for about 30 minutes. After that we …

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A Grand Slam for Ireland?

A Grand Slam in the 5 or 6 Nations rugby Championship has only been won 41 times in the 97 years it has been contested with England (13), Wales (12), France (10) leading the way and with Scotland and Ireland on 3 apiece some way behind. Ireland won it in 1948 (Ravenhill), 2009 (Cardiff) and 2018 (Twickenham) and it is an honour previously achieved only by some vintage Irish teams led by legendary players such Jackie Kyle, Brian O’Driscoll, and …

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A Return to Normalcy? – A southern perspective

text

On the assumption that UK Ireland, EU, and US relations are once again beginning to resemble what used to be regarded as normality, how can we expect those relations to evolve in the future? The Brexit fever in England seems to have broken and a more pragmatic and competent PM appears to be in charge. Of course, some nods to Brexit orthodoxy may still be required to keep the Brexit ultra wing of the Tory party on board, chiefly in …

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It’s all over bar the shouting?

gray concrete castle at daytime

The political agenda in the UK seems to be moving on. The verdicts are in. Sunak is being praised for his political adroitness. Boris has been wrong-footed and even the perennially churlish Lord Frost has been muttering about aspects of the deal begin helpful. The Windsor Framework Agreement (hereinafter referred to as the WFA) is being hailed as the harbinger of a reset in relations between the UK and EU more generally. A sort of GFA for the UK and …

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What now with the Protocol?

person in red sweater holding babys hand

In analysing the outcome of the Protocol negotiations, one has to look at the prime interests of the main actors involved. The EU The EU has no huge interest in N. Ireland. It is not a large market in the context of the Single Market as a whole. Provided NI doesn’t become a backdoor whereby contraband goods from all over the world can enter the Single Market, no major EU interests are at stake. The protocol had become a huge …

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What if the proposed protocol reforms are rejected?

white and black no smoking sign

David Allen Green has long been my British legal blogger of choice. I may not always agree with him politically, but he is often very insightful in his de-construction of the legal issues facing Britain. In a recent blogpost entitled The seven ways the matter of Brexit and the island of Ireland can be ultimately resolved, he turned his attention to the protocol, and I quote: One: the European Union and/or the Single Market ceasing to exist. This is highly …

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Progress will only come when members of all communities can feel confident and proud in their own identity…

girl standing near plants

In Why Northern Ireland’s anti sectarianism is semi permanently stuck in “the crawler lane”… Cillian McGrattan makes a long, subtle and impassioned plea to get away from the sectarian tropes which seem to bedevil discussion of just about every topic or policy area in N. Ireland, and bemoans the fact that progress appears to be so slow. However, his focus on ideologies perhaps ignores the degree to which any change in those ideologies is dependent on changes in the real …

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Ireland’s 50 years of EU membership…

brown and white concrete houses

I had the pleasure of attending the annual Irish Association of Contemporary European Studies (IACES) lecture given by Professor Brigid Laffan of the European University Institute recently. In the hour available to her she painted some broad strokes of how membership has helped change Ireland over the past 50 years. One striking statistic was that male life expectancy was 68 years when Ireland joined in 1973. If I had been my age then, I would be dead! 55% of our …

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Systems differ and patients die…

person sitting while using laptop computer and green stethoscope near

The failure of healthcare information support systems to provide a fully integrated and portable digitised personal medical history to aid healthcare professionals in making timely and efficient diagnostic, treatment and care decisions has become an open sore in Irish society, leading to much public debate. I felt moved to share my experience of such systems in the Irish Times: A chara, – Nearly 20 years ago I was asked to review the implementation of a digital patient record system at …

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Rugby Six Nations Review: Round 1 

Although none of the results came as a shock, the glorious unpredictability of the 6 Nations was underlined by three away victories in the opening round. Italy came close to shocking France in Rome, which would have been only the fourth time they have beaten France in 47 matches since the sides first met in a fully recognised international in 1937. Scotland beat England for the third time in a row for the first time in over 50 years and …

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