Tuesday 20 February 2018

Ireland, changed for the better

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Photo: PA
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Photo: PA


Ireland's political culture is the product of both the collective history of our political system and the life histories of the members of that system and, therefore, is rooted equally in public events and private experiences. Last week the country's two main political leaders made memorable, some would say remarkable, speeches - one at the European Parliament, the other in Dail Eireann - and they were a credit to Leo Varadkar and Micheal Martin respectively, whether you accord or not with the views expressed.

Both speeches were made against a background of fresh developments in a story that brought profound shame to this country, known as the Kerry Babies. The details were first reported in this newspaper 34 years ago and as such will be remembered by many readers but, in all probability, will be unknown by the vast majority of younger people.

That younger generation has already brought about remarkable change to the political and social culture of Ireland - we think of the same-sex marriage referendum. Whether you are comfortable or not with what has been the development of a more liberal, some would say more tolerant, Ireland, the change is equally rooted in the public events and private experiences of the, in many ways, admirable generation referred to, and those that have gone before them.

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