The 100th anniversary of the Easter uprising of 1916 saw the beginnings of a deeper appreciation of the achievements of Sir Roger Casement who was hanged as a traitor in Pentonville prison on 3 August 1916. Over the following century he has never lacked for notoriety, famous as an Irish patriotic martyr, but discussion of... Read More
A 1970 strike in Ireland provoked an admirable outbreak of ingenuity - Greece should take note
Television reporters stand in front of the shut doors of banks in Athens and speak as if a few days more of bank closure brings the Greeks that much closer to catastrophe. Media coverage dwells obsessively on the theme that for Greece it is five minutes to midnight, but somehow midnight never comes. Shuttered banks... Read More
Few of us are inclined to look a gift horse in the mouth, and that applies in spades to journalists running with a sensational news story. But even by normal media standards, recent reports about the bones of 796 babies being found in the septic tank of an Irish orphanage betray a degree of cynicism... Read More
Gerry Adams helps police with their inquiries.
One summer’s day 32 years ago, during a spell of employment at the U.K. offices of Marathon Oil Corp. in London’s Marylebone Road, I was taking lunch at a nondescript greasy spoon near those offices when from the near distance there came an almighty THUD. Startled, I looked across at the proprietor of the place,... Read More
HBD Chick and I talk about how rates of historic inbreeding have had an important impact on the selective pressures acting on the traits of various peoples living today. We have often used Europe and the Middle East as examples of this, because strong regional variations in historic rates of inbreeding exist in those places.... Read More
BELFAST, Northern Ireland. For the rest of the world, the Titanic may be a symbol of epic failure — but not in this formerly great industrial city where she was built. As we approach the 100th anniversary of the famous liner’s sinking later this month, Belfast is marking the occasion with many commemoration ceremonies —... Read More
“Give the spivs your taxpayers’ money or we’ll bring down your banking system.”
An American took his phlegmatic English friend to see the Niagara Falls. “Isn’t that amazing?” said the enthusiastic American. “Look at that vast mass of water dashing over that enormous cliff!” “But what,” replied the unimpressed Englishman, after viewing the sight for some moments, “is to stop it?” I owe the story to my father,... Read More
All It Has to Do is Vote "No"
Wednesday's press conference with ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet turned out to be a real jaw-dropper. While Master illusionist Trichet didn't commit himself to massive bond purchases (Quantitative Easing) as many had hoped, he did impress the gathering with his magical skills. The Financial Times recounts Trichet's what happened like this: Nice trick, eh? So while... Read More
Bailout as Extortion
The terms of the EU/IMF's €85 billion ($113 billion) bailout for Ireland are much worse than analysts had anticipated. Ireland will be required to use its National Pension Reserve Fund (NPRF) to shore up its insolvent banks and to maintain government operations. At the same time, senior debt-holders will not share any of the losses... Read More
"Tell the EU and IMF to Shove It!"
Imagine that Yasser Arafat had succeeded in ending Israeli occupation and establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. Now imagine that 10 or 15 years later, new Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, agreed to hand over control of his country's budget to the IMF so his people's future would be controlled by outsiders.... Read More
Otto von Bismarck is said to have proposed the following solution to the Irish Question: Move all the Irish to Holland and all the Dutch to Ireland. With their industriousness, sobriety, and civic virtue the Dutch would soon have Ireland thriving. The Irish meanwhile would be so busy drinking and fighting, they would neglect the... Read More
When the Cure is Worse Than the Disease
Ireland could be the next Lehman Brothers. That's what has the markets worried. If Irish leaders refuse to accept a bailout from the EU's new European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), then bondholders will be forced to take haircuts on their investments which will leave banks in Germany and France short of capital. Bonds yields will... Read More
Ireland is on the Way to Default
There was a bank run in Ireland last Wednesday. LCH Clearnet, a London based clearinghouse, surprised the markets by announcing it would increase margin requirements on Irish debt by 15 per cent. That's all it took to send investors fleeing for the exits. Yields on Irish bonds spiked sharply as banks tried to close positions... Read More
Two cheers for the Celtic Tiger.
Ireland is midway between two elections. March 7 saw an election for the new Northern Ireland Assembly in the six counties under British rule. In the Republic of Ireland — the southern twenty-six counties, self-governing since 1922 — there is a constitutional requirement for an election this spring. The precise date will be announced by... Read More
That would be the folk of the Middle East
We all know, and have known since 9/11, that our country faces a threat. What kind of threat is it, though, that has brought us this War on Terror? I doubt there are many of us who think that it is the kind of threat that Britain faced from Hitler, or the Roman Republic from... Read More
They are Europeans now.
There were big demonstrations in Northern Ireland on Tuesday. Around two thousand people, from both the South and the North of the divided island, converged on the fine old 18th-century manor house, rather misleadingly called a "castle," at Hillsborough in County Down. Ten miles away in Belfast city center, several hundred more took part in... Read More
1916: The Easter Rising, by Tim Pat Coogan
The Easter Rising of 1916 is the central event in 20th-century Irish history. At noon on April 24 of that year, Easter Monday, a small group of violent separatists seized some key points in the city of Dublin and proclaimed a Republic independent of Britain. After a week of bitter fighting the insurrection was put... Read More
The most interesting place in the world.
When I write about Irish affairs for U.S. readers I generally begin by apologizing for having brought to their attention a tiny country that seems to be of no real consequence to the great affairs of the world. This time I am going to depart from that formula. I am, in fact, going to begin... Read More
Northern Ireland is.
I always feel a little apologetic when I write about Ireland for an American audience. Given that Ireland is a very small place with very few people, it's hard to see why Americans should bother about it. A few Americans, of course — the so-called "Irish-American activists" — are very bothered about it. These people... Read More
A dark episode in Irish history.
————————— Writing of the Irish city of Limerick in his portmanteau review of Frank McCourt's books, ["Not-So-Great-Expectations," NYRB, May 25], Julian Moynahan says: "Then there is the dark episode in the city's history when its defenders, in 1690, were overwhelmed by the Williamites." I should think a better candidate for Limerick's dark episode would be... Read More
Prisoner releases in Ireland.
I note that the Republican Party platform includes a few words of support for the Belfast "Good Friday" Agreement of 1998. Now, it is too much to hope that, in an election season, Americans can be persuaded to think for long about a place as inconsequential as Ireland. Still I believe we should spare a... Read More
Malign results of various "peace processes."
At the time of writing, the "peace process" conversations between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs are still going on at Camp David. The prospects are that Israel will yield on almost every point, the Arabs on none. Meanwhile in Northern Ireland another "peace process" has moved into its final phase, with the national flag of... Read More