Regrettable lacuna – a missing voice at the Smithwick tribunal

The Smithwick tribunal will probably be the last of its kind – a PR campaign against excessive fees, discontent with the slow pace of investigations, and a lack of political will mean future scandals will be investigated by inquiries and commissions, but never again though a public tribunal of inquiry. Smithwick is the Cinderella of Irish tribunals. It didn’t help that it spent its first five years working in private, negotiating the tricky business of encouraging non-compellable witnesses from Northern … Read more

An Cúige: Where government spending buys peace, not votes

David Cameron has let the cat out of the bag. Northern Ireland costs too much. Wikipedia puts the cost to the British exchequer at five billion quid in 2006. That’s one fifth of all economic output. Annually. Despite this, the North remains an economic basketcase. By contrast, the Republic benefited from a EU investment in infrastructure of ten billion euro after the Maastricht treaty was signed. That spend is credited with kickstarting a boom lasting close to two decades (though … Read more

An Open Letter To Enda Kenny

By now, the newspapers have been put to bed. Based on the preview I caught on Vincent Browne’s TV3 show, half of them are predicting dire consequences for you as a result of George Lee’s abdication. My guess is your media advisers have spent the day going over your response with you. So here’s what you do. Fire them. By all accounts, you’re a very personable chap in the flesh, and every bit as charming and effective as Bertie Ahern … Read more

The Rights and Wrongs of TV3 and Brian Lenihan

TV3 were right to report that finance minister Brian Lenihan had been diagnosed with cancer. Unfortunately, just about every other decision they made in covering the story was wrong. What TV3 gave us was Ursula Halligan, seemingly ill-prepared, at one point stumbling over tenses (“Brian Lenihan was, um, is…”) and saying not very much after the first sentence. (As an aside, why do television news editors feel the need for faux actuality, going over to ‘our reporter on the spot’ … Read more

Ireland, Cultural traditions, and Them Next Door

Every now and then, Fintan O’Toole ’s gaze moves away from lofty matters of national import, to consider the state of popular culture. The result is a National Squirm. There are people who understand VIP and Hello magazine but Fintan, for all his merits, is not one of those people. I still recall how marvellously he missed the point when he wrote about Donegal band Goats Don’t Shave close to two decades ago. It came as news to him that … Read more

Events and Polls make for a close run final week

On 29 and 30 May 2001, witnesses gave evidence to the Moriarty tribunal contradicting former taoiseach Charles Haughey’s version of his financial affairs. At the same time the EU commission president called for “a direct tax to replace the current system of funding the EU from national contributions.” While all that was happening, pollsters were asking voters how they intended to vote in the first Nice referendum, a week later. The poll results, published the following Saturday, showed a 7% … Read more