11. 1. 2012

Remembering Paul Douglas

This is a column i wrote six years ago, in June 2006, and I just came across it by chance; it is about one of the best men I have ever known: I share it with you now True greatness is not measured in the plaques or institutes which bear one’s name, but in the imperishable residue one leaves on the minds and souls of relative strangers. Fourteen year ago, I went to report on the siege of Sarajevo. My […]

11. 1. 2012

The only lessons that could be learnt were through the grievous expenditure of human life.

I wrote this for the 90th anniversary of the First day on the Somme in 2006. It might help correct some the Anglcentric/Hibernocentric perceptions of the war Nightfall, ninety years ago today, and 899 Belfast men who that morning had risen from their trenches, as soldiers and non-commissioned officers of the British army, lay dead on Thiepval ridge, in the Somme valley. One hundred and ninety one of them were from the Shankill Road. Forty six officers lay dead among […]

10. 1. 2012

Ireland is facing a future of hardship and we cannot allow false narratives to lure us back into violence

Enough. Last week we saw a new double-nadir in Irish broadcasting history. Not merely did TG4 broadcast a ludicrous piece of IRA propaganda in its profile of Rose Dugdale, in which it actually called her “saighdiuir/soldier”, but RTE Radio One promoted it in advance with a truly supine and abject 45-minute interview with the criminal lunatic herself. Better still, little you and me, through our television licence fees, subsidised both of these grisly little travesties. Without disrespect for TG4, which […]

6. 1. 2012

It is as if Irish people arrived here with their cattle and learned nothing about the land

Something odd is happening. In the middle of the greatest economic slump since the 1950s, Irish agricultural land-prices are soaring: €10,000 an acre. This is an astounding figure, but at least it does reflect the success of the Irish food industry. Our beef and lamb are superb. I recently did a blind, multi-national butter-tasting: Irish was easily the best. We humans might find the Irish climate infuriating, but the livestock and the wildlife with which we share the land do […]

5. 1. 2012

We will always be clinging to someone else’s coattails

It’s hard to imagine a better example of a winning argument than that of the Eurosceptics such as Anthony Coughlan and Mary Ellen Synon who for years were maintaining, through closely marshalled economic facts, the fundamental flaws of the Greater Europe vision. The eurozone is now on life-support; gangrene is rotting its extremities; toes go black and stink. Yet the debate — if such an energetic word may be used about Leinster House: the Dail drums or the doldrums? — […]

3. 1. 2012

Executions of 1916 still form toxic staple of brainwashing that passes for education in schools

Some Dublin friends had builders in last May, for a job to be completed in July. So, of course, they spent the third week of December desperately trying to get the builders to finish by Christmas. And the really serious problem with this story is the effortless ease with which Irish readers know it is possible. Moreover, Irish builders — not being parachuted down from Mars — are probably a fair representation of the standards in much of Irish life. […]

23. 12. 2011

In part, the Marists of Ireland helped equip the Marxists of North Korea with nuclear weapons

This coming year marks the 120th anniversary of the establishment by Irish Marists of St Anthony’s school in Lahore, in what was then the Punjab Province of the British Raj in India. It’s usually forgotten nowadays — thanks to a republicanised history curriculum — that the Irish were often enthusiastic participants in the empire, as missionaries in particular, but also as soldiers and civil servants. And, of course, all education is thought-imperialism of a kind: thus French missionaries originally founded […]

22. 12. 2011

The 2012 Olympics will be the final calamitous testament to the great obsessions of Tony Blair

There isn’t a single person in Ireland — and I am, most passionately in the general throng — who doesn’t want Fionnuala Britton to win a medal in the London Olympics. Yet, surely, we must all be aware of the con that is going on; there are so many events in the Olympics, that virtually every country gets a medal. And so while Lithuania exults over its silver in ferret-wrestling, and Ugandastan rejoices at its gold in toenail-filing, no one […]

21. 12. 2011

Come back in a year and tell me about Arab Spring

It was clever of Vaclav Havel to die almost on the first anniversary of the self-immolation by Mohamed Bouazizi. The latter’s death was hailed throughout the western liberal media as the dawn of a new age; so let us now celebrate a full year of self-deceit and delusion. That idiotic term “the Arab Spring” in itself defines the historical ignorance that underwrites this myth. After all, the Prague Spring was deeply non-violent: it was crushed by tanks, but even the […]

20. 12. 2011

Hitchens had charisma and intellect in spades

The best thing about Christopher Hitchens was that he changed his mind whenever the evidence justified it. He started out on the classical English left, rather like his hero, George Orwell, and when he realised that it was an intellectually threadbare gallimaufry of ego-driven career politicians, cynical or witless trades union leaders, and middle-class emoters, he moved to the position of Permanent Sceptic. This is the only respectable position for any journalist of honour, which was easier to maintain in […]