Eoghan Harris: 'The week in bad politics no credit to Irish media'
Surfing Irish social media last week was like a long swim through sectarian sewage.
Surfing Irish social media last week was like a long swim through sectarian sewage.
To know the true mind of Middle Ireland, take a budget week's break in Morocco.
For months now, swimming against the stream, I have been calling here for a "soft backstop", a tweak that would help Theresa May get the Withdrawal Agreement.
My own policy for making peace is very simple: speak loudly about crimes committed by your own side, and shame the other side into doing the...
A small majority of English people went mad and voted for Brexit. But a bigger majority in the Republic has gone right off its rocker.
Last January, the playwright Colin Murphy, in an essay about the danger of consensus, quoted George Orwell:
Four more years, thrummed the train to Cork last Monday as I headed south on my annual Christmas trip.
The big beasts of the Irish media are all backing Leo Varadkar's backstop strategy.
On December 11, Theresa May will face the same challenge the Duke of Wellington faced when he wrote to Archbishop Patrick Curtis on the same date 190 years ago, supporting Catholic emancipation.
As we approach the end of 2018, I don't want to let the year die without marking the achievements of the eight men who negotiated the Good Friday Agreement 20 years ago.
Pat Kenny's Big Debate proved a perennial truth: the old dog for the hard questions.
Most of you don't know John Hume declined to take part in the October 5, 1968, march in Derry which is now accepted as the start of the civil rights struggle.
When Arlene Foster said she would be happy to work with Boris Johnson, I recalled a saying attributed to the subtle French statesman and survivor, Talleyrand.
Long ago I laid down what I believe to be an iron law of Irish politics: as long as partition lasts, the national question is the only game in town.
Be sure not to miss Colin Murphy's brilliant television play The Bailout, which starts on Virgin tomorrow night, of which more anon.
St Brigid's Day normally sees me in high spirits, but not this year.
Last Monday, I sat in the Dail chamber listening to the largely mediocre centenary speeches - President Higgins's the sole exception - and reflected on Leo Varadkar's version of the fable of how to boil a frog.
Leo Varadkar is the first Irish Taoiseach to bet the country's Gross Domestic Product on the rationality of the right wing of the Tory party.
President Higgins will not be attending the centenary commemoration of the Soloheadbeg Ambush next Sunday.
Green groupthink in Fine Gael and Fianna Fail are driving the twin follies of the backstop and the proposed FF-SDLP linkage.
Brexit has put a big strain on friendships I have forged with British and Irish unionists over the past 30 years.
Back in 1967, during a row in RTE, my mentor Jack Dowling told me that one of my faults was a failure to recognise unmanageable situations or unmanageable expectations.
Brian Hayes is a big loss, not just to politics, but to the body politic.
Like all great leaders, Angela Merkel will not be missed until she has left the stage and we see the pygmies in her place.
President-elect Higgins would be wise to cut up his credit cards for the next seven years.
As we are now perpetually on the eve of a general election, fair play demands that RTE does not favour any party.
The coverage of the Drew Harris appointment taught us two media lessons.
Leo Varadkar, aged 39, is at a cusp in his life when he needs to listen to some words of wisdom from the late great John McCain.
Back in 1979, asked about Pope John Paul II's visit to Ireland, I jokingly said it would set the country back 300 years for three days.
A society needs an accurate grip on its past to protect itself from those who want to hijack history for their own ends.
Last Sunday, factor 50 sun burning a hole in my head, I drove from Skibbereen to the Abbey Hotel in the Ballyvourney gaeltacht, Co Cork, to attend a long afternoon meeting in the Irish language.
Given Peter Robinson's wake-up call to unionism and Mary Lou McDonald's volte-face on border polls, I am extra grateful to Eugene Downes, director of the Kilkenny Arts Festival, for inviting me to talk about the Duke of Wellington and Daniel O'Connell next Saturday.
To be too far ahead is to be alone. As I found out over the past 40 years whenever I wrote about evangelical Irish-speaking missionaries, RIC men and Protestant victims of the Old IRA.
Last Friday the Taoiseach spoke briefly but cogently in West Cork about the murder of 13 Protestants in April 1922.
Last week, we got some clarity on Brexit and the Presidency and saw the Seanad at work.
When Bertie Ahern was Taoiseach, I warned him against too many foreign trips for two reasons.
Coming out of Fields in Skibbereen, whistling the Mountains of Mourne, I got a convent school puck that hurt.
Leo Varadkar would like to do a deal with Sinn Fein if he was let - and only the pundits and his party are in denial about it.
Charles and Camilla's visit was another small blow against the Anglophobia that continually lurks at the lumpen level of Irish society.
Leo Varadkar was wrong to launch Feile an Phobail but the pundits didn't tell you why.
The Irish Times is coolly giving credit for the referendum result to Leo Varadkar and Fine Gael and dismissing Fianna Fail as totally out of touch. Here is a more accurate summary.
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young and flying home to secure a resounding Yes result was very heaven.
Samuel Johnson assured Boswell that, "a man may write at any time if he will set himself doggedly to it". I wonder.
Micheal Martin has a working moral compass and always acts with good authority: he tells the truth, about women's issues like abortion and cervical cancer, about Brexit, and the dangers of a deal with Sinn Fein.
Vicky Phelan's call to action is clear. Do your duty or be held accountable.
Noel Hill has no rival as the master of the humble concertina, which he raises to high art by playing it as if it were a set of uilleann pipes.
Last February 26 I hoped here that President Higgins would seek a second term as he was best fitted to give us a pluralist position on the coming centenaries of the War of Independence and Civil War.
For the past six months I regularly predicted a Fine Gael-Sinn Fein coalition - and will prove that claim further on.
As I want to write about both the flagging Repeal the Eighth and the Brexit campaigns I will ration my rage about alleged breaches of data in INM while waiting for a fuller picture from the High Court hearing on April 16.
Moral courage is rare. Gerard Murphy must know his new book on the death of Michael Collins* risked return fire from academic nationalists but he still forged ahead.
Two questions this week. How did a mesmerised media miss the Taoiseach's major mistake on Brexit? Why does one of the "hooded men" see so clearly?
Leo Varadkar's largely successful American visit was rich in raw material for my fat mental files on the incoherent interaction between media and politics in Ireland.
Dan Donovan, who died last week, was what Dr Johnson would call a man of parts: actor, producer, director. But mostly he was a brilliant teacher who left an indelible mark on those he taught.
We are still dealing with the aftermath of two blizzards, one natural, one political. We are coping a bit better with Storm Emma than the Brexit blizzard.
Let's hope President Higgins decides to seek a second term - and that Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have the sense to stand clear.
As well as forcing us to hold our sides in helpless laughter, both The Young Offenders and Derry Girls show how television can dispel bigotry and prejudice.
Sinn Fein trolls often take me to task for supporting different political leaders and parties down the years.
If the political fudging of the past week continues for 16 more weeks there will be no Repeal, and no change in our abortion laws.
Although I favour Repeal of the Eighth, I have always avoided writing about abortion for two reasons.
The latest Churchill film, Darkest Hour, opened last week in Irish cinemas.
The recent deaths of Maurice Hayes and Donal Barrington deprived Ireland of two of our greatest public men and left me mourning two of my long-time personal heroes.
We all lived our own year in 2017. Looking back, I find one big lowlight and two smaller personal highlights.
Our Christmas trip to Cork began under the cloud cast by Brexit.
Ryan Tubridy's reversals on the royal wedding provide the perfect peg for pondering our ambivalent attitude to England and its institutions.
The Taoiseach and Tanaiste are being acclaimed on all sides for winning the battle of Brexit, so my criticism of how they conducted the campaign won't bother them.
Four words sum up the past two weeks: complicity, character, cowardice and civility.
Let me start by making three predictions about which I further predict I will not have to eat humble pie.
In spite of being one his most consistent critics, I would never belittle the dark brilliance of Gerry Adams, both as a political leader and strategist.
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be a young woman in the West was very heaven.
Last Tuesday, 500 years ago, Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the door of All Saints' Church in Wittenberg and began the Protestant Reformation, a topic to which I shall return later.
Last week, I spent some time catching up with the new shows on TV3, hoping for fresh ideas to compete with RTE's predictable menu of political correctness and myopia about Sinn Fein.
Conor Cruise O'Brien was born 100 years ago this year. Trinity College is marking his birth with a major symposium next Thursday and Friday.
Hurricane Ophelia hurt but Hurricane Regina Doherty was full of hot air. She told Morning Ireland that Fianna Fail had never raised pensions and could not be trusted on them.
This week I want to touch briefly on what makes for a good party leader, a good current affairs show, and, above all, good judgment.
Liam Cosgrave's political credo, like his father's, was salus populi suprema lex: the safety of the people is the supreme law. In practice this meant protecting the State from the IRA, and he was never slow to use its initials.
Cui bono? Who benefits most from the Taoiseach's spats with Mary Lou McDonald?
Last Sunday night I rang the bell of my Mayo neighbour who had been bravely flying the flag in Dublin all season.
Sam Maguire, who died in poverty, was a patriot who still continues to serve his country.
Last Sunday, Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein were in trouble in the Republic on two issues: Gerry Adams's call not to prosecute the murderers of Tom Oliver, and Sinn Fein's rejection of Arlene Foster's olive-branch speech on restoring the Northern Executive.
Last Tuesday, Simon Coveney said he was worried about North Korea. He would do better to worry about the North of Ireland - and its increasing impact on the politics of the Irish Republic.
Sean O'Callaghan inverted our idea of an IRA informer. Rejecting the role of despised tout, he finished as a flawed, tragic hero, at least in my eyes.
Michael Twomey, famous as an actor from Cha and Miah, was more than the sum of his parts but rather a "man of parts". That was Dr Johnson's admiring phrase for a man of many talents but also of moral substance.
Leo Varadkar's recent skilful speech in Queen's University Belfast came just too late for me to praise the sure touch of his new speechwriter, Professor Patrick Geoghegan of TCD.
Leo Varadkar rounded on the Brits about Brexit last Friday week. Gerry Adams led the chorus of approval - and is still gushing.
Saturday in Skibbereen market is no place for souls seeking solitude. For locals and blow-ins, this is a meet-and-greet market, followed by the fast West Cork dismissal - "I'll let you go so" - when you are sucked dry.
Conor Cruise O'Brien was a prophet without honour in his own country and the fire which destroyed his former Howth home seemed symbolic of his current marginal status.
No matter what the summer weather has in store, I am happy to be back in Field's coffee shop in Skibbereen. Here feedback is right in my face.
Martin Mansergh, in a letter to the Sunday Independent contesting my criticisms of the Department of Foreign Affairs, draws attention to my role as backroom adviser to David Trimble, as if that finished off any credibility I might have with nationalist readers.
I believe that if Charlie Flanagan rather than Simon Coveney had been Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sinn Fein would have been forced to restore devolved government in Northern Ireland by last Thursday's deadline.
Let's hope Leo Varadkar was listening to his colleague Brian Hayes MEP speaking to Shane Coleman on Newstalk last Friday.
Like most Irish people, I'm glad Leo Varadkar overcame the many obstacles to becoming Taoiseach.
Let's savour three good bits from the British general election before spitting out the bad.
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven. Leo Varadkar, flushed by a hard- fought victory, may feel empathy with Wordsworth's poetic effusion at the dawn of the French Revolution.
Last Thursday, Mr Fuan Chan, consultant at the Blackrock Clinic, said he would have to whip out two cancerous moles from my back caused by too much sun.
Last Sunday, I did a solo interview with Ivan Yates on Newstalk concentrating on three issues.
The RTE news shots of Gerry Adams in a Dail 'doughnut' with Mary Lou McDonald and EU emissary Michel Barnier were a Sinn Fein spin doctor's dream.
Bryan Dobson is not just a distinguished broadcaster; he is adjunct professor of public broadcast journalism at Limerick University.
Coming of age in the radical 1960s, I rejected the Roman Catholic Church of John Charles McQuaid. But as an atheist, I respected the saving grace of Christianity.
Last week saw both the strongest and weakest RTE response to the biggest problem in Irish politics - how to handle the past legacy of Sinn Fein as it bids for power, North and South.
Every columnist needs a good critic. So I was grateful to get a cogent letter of complaint from John Leahy of Wilton in Cork.
Some years ago, I sighted an elusive Irish electoral species whom I christened Moby Dick in honour of Herman Melville's whale.
Last Sunday, a man stopped me in the People's Park, Dun Laoghaire, and said, "If it wasn't for the Sunday Independent, they'd have it all their own way."
Let's pray that the canonisation of Martin McGuinness promotes good politics in Northern Ireland. Because it has delivered a deadly blow to democratic politics in the Republic of Ireland.
Every country has one fatal flaw. Britain's is the mindset that produced Brexit. Ours is an obsession with an outline mental map marked 'United Ireland'.
Mary Lou McDonald sat in the Prime Time studio last Tuesday giving the Sisters of Charity a hard time and going on about "gruesome and harrowing" burials as if she had never heard of Jean McConville.
Tribal passions are putting the centre under severe pressure both in Northern Ireland and the Republic. Should this go on, the middle ground will soon give way under our feet.
Who? Leo Varadkar or Simon Coveney?
Last Wednesday, I gave a talk at the Little Museum of Dublin called 'The Primacy of Plot'.
Aristotle says courage is the chief virtue. Luckily for Europe, Angela Merkel, like the late Brendan McGahon, is blessed with bravery.
Last Wednesday, St Brigid's Day, I concluded we in the West will have to decide between the dark vision of Donald Trump's chief advisor, Stephen Bannon, and the bright vision of my German friend, Britta Freith.
Aristotle said everything to excess is wrong - which also applies to attacking Donald Trump or selling the snake oil that is the Sinn Fein peace process.
For the past week I've been filtering Irish politics through the internet and factor 30 sunscreen while soaking up the sun in Agadir, Morocco.
A famous feminist slogan says the personal is always political. This also applies to Donald Trump, Arlene Foster, Martin McGuinness, and the late TK Whitaker.
This week, in deepest winter, I want to try to lift your spirits by writing about Jurgen Klopp, about the Liverpool football team, and about life.
Aristotle is an infallible guide to good politics - witness his wise observation that the most stable societies have a large middle class.