Ivan Yates: 'Keep stakes on a tight rein in Cheltenham's brutal betting bloodbath'
Three days of meaningful votes await - tomorrow (withdrawal agreement); Wednesday (no deal); Thursday (Article 50) - and yet the latest...
Three days of meaningful votes await - tomorrow (withdrawal agreement); Wednesday (no deal); Thursday (Article 50) - and yet the latest...
At last. The 'no deal' scenario has been exposed for what it is, a Brexiteers' bluff.
The outcry over the National Children's Hospital (NCH) scandal comes too late to apply either the handbrake or effect any cost reductions to the...
There are many mysteries about our Ireland but events over the last week caused me to ponder about one in particular: why is there no one to...
It's the most popular conversation item in the country. Weather preoccupies our talk time. The highest viewer ratings on 2018 TV news were...
It was perhaps the most significant domestic political event in an uneventful year. Early in the evening of Wednesday, December 12, most of those with even a lazy interest in current affairs would have been preoccupied with the fate of the British PM.
Yesterday marked the centenary of a date of destiny for Irish democracy. The 1918 Westminster general election across Ireland delivered 67pc of votes for independence from Britain, electing 73 Sinn Féin MPs, who would go on to establish the first Dáil within weeks, in the Mansion House.
You've heard of Murphy's Law - what can go wrong, will go wrong. But perhaps you haven't heard of O'Toole's Law - Murphy was an optimist. The National Broadband Plan (NBP) has operated under O'Toole's Law. Since 2012, every setback that could scupper provision of nationwide rural broadband has contrived to bedevil successive governments' false dawns.
Despite the blood in the halls of Westminster, UK Prime Minister Theresa May could yet triumph as she battles a dismal array of naysayers within her own party, and Labour opportunists without.
The Taoiseach's temerity to question front-line hospital staff Christmas rosters was met with howls of derision. How very dare he, given the four-week Dáil recess, question the festive capacity for handling diagnostics.
Michael D Higgins is set fair to be re-elected on October 27. Polls suggest he may surpass his final tally of 58pc secured in 2011. He's seen as a...
Ploughing and policing are poles apart. So, the publication of the policing report on the same day that 100,000 decamped the annual agri-fest in windswept Tullamore meant a muted media...
There is many a stumble down memory lane, especially if you are retracing four decades of a working life. But to say that there has been sweeping change since 1978, when I joined the...
The management of the Scally review was a perfect example of the cold and cunning capacity of the State - in the guise of the permanent Government - to defend itself from attack.
We've learned what damage is caused by decades of deference to the Catholic hierarchy. As the State declares a new secular/Church covenant, hiding in plain sight could well lie another culture of...
With all the focus on Brexit, it's easy to overlook growing evidence that Leo Varadkar's leadership is beginning to look a little unsteady.
One of my favourite BBC television programmes was 'Call My Bluff'. Its quintessentially English characters like Frank Muir (with trademark elegant dickie bow) and Arthur Marshall duelled with host Robert Robinson to explain the meaning of the rarest of words. With total plausibility, they postulated fanciful definitions - until their bluff was called. Brexit resembles a never-ending high-stakes version of the show, repurposed for the 21st century.
The word from inside Leo's inner sanctum is once the Euro and local election hurdles are cleared the June reshuffle will see Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy shifted out of the portfolio.
Europe will dominate political affairs this year, whatever way you look at it. The election of Ireland's MEPs on May 24, the appointment of our EU Commissioner and, of course, Brexit, will shape the agenda.
No year can be complete without revealing my unique Ivano Awards for 2018. As a prelude to introducing the winners, a little context to the year that was...
At Ireland's oldest political party's 70th national conference last weekend in Dublin, Brendan Howlin launched a power-play to return to government.
Reading the political tea leaves left after the presidential election begs the question: was it all a storm in a teacup or is there something more ominous on the political horizon?
This country is still enduring the greatest housing crisis since the 1920s.
The beating of collective EU and British heads against the wall of Brexit is destined to continue. The total failure to butt the backstop out of the road at the EU summit this week stops any lingering hope Leo Varadkar might have of going to the country in a December 7 general election.
Here we go again, down the reckless populist path from boom to bust.
Make no mistake, the arrival of Pope Francis today and his whirlwind visitation will be an outstanding success. Historic. Inspirational. It's certain, because of the nature of the man himself and the scale of the event.
The inevitable wake-up call is here. We took quality drinking water for granted. Three months of minimal rainfall since May has inflicted overnight water restrictions for one-third of the population. This weekend, hotels pubs and restaurants don't know whether tourists will be able to use toilets or wash their hands up to midnight. The forebodings for later in the year are dire.
Perhaps it is just the heat, but everything about the political landscape looks out of focus and hazy; and if anything the picture will get more obscure this autumn.
A common life experience question is this: what advice would you give to your 18-year-old self? The thought occurred to me as I recently realised that 40 years ago, in 1978, I joined a political party with starry-eyed notions of a career in politics.
The polling booths are closed. Boxes sealed. But Article 40.3.3 rows will endure for many more years - irrespective of the result. Like the Brexit vote campaigning in Britain, what the result's consequences mean will continue to dominate our politics - either with attempts to rerun the vote if defeated or stymie liberal legalised abortion regime if passed.
Mark my words - the countdown to the next general election is on.
John Bruton was once in hot water as Taoiseach for not answering about a passing Dáil controversy. His subsequent riposte, "I wasn't asked the right question", didn't save him from his critics.
A sunny spot in a glum week was the elevation of Evelyn Cusack to a much-deserved promotion as boss of Met Éireann. We can anticipate weekly "weather events" morphing into multi-coloured national dramas.
The final chapter of another epic week culminates with the apex of ambition for every aspiring racehorse owner. The ultimate dizzy dream is to win a Gold Cup. A new champion will emerge today.
Punter Alert. Not yellow or orange. Code red. Another few inches of rain overnight means Prestbury Park 2018 is a mudlark's merry-go-round.
Racing craves heroes - hyped horses that do their talking on the track. Unbeaten and unbeatable.
It's a cliché. But it can't be emphatically repeated often enough. Festival races are of such intense quality, you shouldn't bet in every race. Just relish the thrills.
Clinical psychologist Dr Eddie Murphy - of Operation Transformation fame - recently explained to me on radio what PTSD is and how momentous events can have long-lasting psychological effects.
Two conflicting narratives are at the centre of the current controversy concerning the PTSB, Ulster Bank and other banks and the sale of 'non-performing loans' (NPLs) to vulture funds. It is the story of the Creditor versus the Debtor. And inevitably they are emotional and political polar opposites.
If you don't fix your final destination, it's easy to lose your way. An attempt to give us the contours for the future shape of our island has been unveiled.
The underlying realities of Irish politics are shifting. 'New politics' is being replaced by a new narrative. The supply and confidence arrangements between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael were always destined to be a "temporary little arrangement".
The Brexit 'slow learners' have landed with something of a bump in the reality lounge. Thankfully Monday's Brussels drama has proven to have been the darkest hour before the dawn in the EU divorce debacle.
Inertia is a peculiar response to crisis, yet judging by the recent spate of challenges to this country, a do-nothing approach seems to be the norm.
We need to talk about Shane Ross, arguably the worst ever Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport.
The focus this week on Leo's first 100 days as Taoiseach is fake news. Fine Gael's hold on power is as tenuous as a deckchair on Miami Beach in the face of Hurricane Irma. Leo and his Fine Gael ministers will only last as long as 44 Fianna Fáil TDs sit on their hands in the Dáil chamber - only while he fulfils the terms and conditions of their 'confidence and supply' agreement.
Back in 1980 (Jesus wept - 37 years ago), I was a raw 20-year-old callow Enniscorthy urban councillor trying to build a local political base.
The new minority Fine Gael Government faces multiple challenges: a Garda confidence crisis; the fallout from Brexit; public sector pay; perennial health atrocities; terrorism threats and Budget 2018.
My favourite pastime is a day's horse racing. The equine splendour, colour, passion, financial uncertainty and friendly chat with regular racing folk combine to create an intoxicating cocktail of pleasure.
The election of Leo Varadkar as Taoiseach is a pivotal turning point in the lifetime of this Dáil. It marks a seismic switch in focus from the last election's legacy towards gearing up for the next contest.
Fine Gael’s leadership race was completely overshadowed by the terror attack in Manchester and the collapse of the trial of Seán FitzPatrick.
On February 18 - 13 weeks ago - I wrote in the Irish Independent: "I believe its Leo's to lose… I would be shocked if Leo does not win". I was accused of supporting and spinning on behalf of Leo. Not true. I simply listened to the class of 2011 - the surge of newly elected Fine Gael TDs who would determine the future direction of the party. I now believe the race is virtually done and dusted. My best guess is Leo will win by 63pc to 37pc.
Any review of Enda Kenny's political career, achievements, persona, failings or character, must start and finish with his best ever decision - to marry Ms Fionnuala O'Kelly in 1992. As Fine Gael leader since 2002, she has been Kenny's chief confidante, mentor and political adviser.
Monday night, Crucible Theatre, Sheffield - after several shots in the concluding frame, both Mark Selby and John Higgins looked at each other, nodded; the balls had configured so as to yield interminable stalemate; they agreed a re-rack.
The political commentariat drew contrasting conclusions from Enda Kenny's announcement of an announcement at this week's Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting.
This weekend, Enda Kenny faces a conflict of interest between himself and his party. He finds himself in a political cul-de-sac of his own making.
The problem with sleepwalking is that you don't realise you're doing it until you crash into something solid. Fine Gael is sleepwalking. What is the party's strategy for the next general election? It has none. When Fianna Fáil pulls the plug on propping up the current feckless, fragile administration, Fine Gael will have so luxuriated in the moment of continued government that it will blind itself...
Universal outrage abounds about Donald Trump. He's a clown, misogynist, buffoon, nutter, dangerous disaster, racist, not fit for office. This presupposes that 60 million Americans don't vote in their best interests, are readily duped and so stupid as to imperil their nation.
This weekend I complete my media broadcast commitments with 'Newstalk Breakfast' and TV3's 'Sunday AM'. This is also my final column for the Irish Independent for the foreseeable future.
Cometh the crisis cometh the man, and Taoiseach Enda Kenny's legacy will be defined by his endgame and how he handles Brexit and our housing crisis.
I don't do shock, and yet the news from our nearest neighbour across the water was deeply unsettling. As late as 11 o'clock on Thursday you could get odds of 9/1 on that vexed issue that has hung over all our heads since David Cameron went for the biggest gamble of his political life.
Up and down Britain, angry grey men may mutter into their glasses of pale ale about the inequities of Brussels, and there'll be talk of how the EU will fare with Blighty gone. But in the end, economics will triumph over emotion and the 'Remain' side will prevail.
Not unlike Fine Gael in 2002, or Fianna Fáil in 2011, the Labour Party's final demise was predicted after February's disastrous rout, losing 30 seats. Combined with the loss of 100 councillors in local elections in May 2014, its national network was decimated. Ministers remained in denial, blaming pundits of unfair bias. Having predicted they'd end up with seven TDs, I took no glee seeing polls of 4-6pc proving uncannily accurate.
What does the Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael written 'confidence and supply' agreement have in common with last week's UN Human Rights Committee report on Ireland's abortion law that found we are in breach of human rights conventions?
I've known Richard Bruton since we were both elected for the first time to the Dáil in 1981. As long as I can remember, over the past 30 years, he's wanted to be Minister for Education. He felt changes in that department could have a lasting societal and economic impact.
The mass exodus begins in earnest today. The first advance parties of the Green Army will assemble at Dublin Airport, the buzz will start with 'sensible' beer-fuelled craic on the plane. The Boys in Green have been in a state of anticipation since November, when flights were booked as soon as the draw was announced.
In just a few weeks our nearest neighbours will decide their destiny - committing to either the EU or the UK.
The crises are lining up for the minority Government now, with the crisis in crime and the need to be constantly looking over its shoulders at its Fianna Fáil puppet masters.
We feared it could go this way. I was in Cabinet back in 1996 when Veronica Guerin was murdered.
It was a disastrous week if you were one of those expecting that radical change would occur in the wake of the events of 2014, when we saw a Justice Minister, a Garda Commissioner, and secretary general all depart prematurely.
The appointment of Simon Harris to the searingly hot seat of Health Minister has all the appearances of a serious political mistake.
For the Labour Party, the fightback begins now with the executive council preparing to select Joan Burton's successor.
Now that we finally have a Government - even if the ground is a little shaky under its feet - the business of running the country can finally begin.
I suppose the thinking was that after waiting for 70 days we were supposed to go down on bended knee in gratitude at finally seeing white smoke over Leinster House.
It came to pass after 10 tiresome weeks, Moses (Micheál Martin) came down from the Hill (St Patrick's, Cork city) and decreed to the little people that there shall be 10 new Commandments of Irish politics:
This Wednesday, we'll have a new government at the fourth attempt, and Enda Kenny's new cabinet will comprise Fine Gael and Independent TDs. First flavour will be pink, as Kenny has promised gender equality for ministers, so we can expect at least one third to be women.
Behind the optics of endless showboating over government formation, sub-plots of more lasting significance are playing out beyond the plinth of Leinster House or hallowed halls of Trinity.
Harsh lessons are finally being learned. In truth, only the Revenue Commissioners can collect tax in this country. When local property tax (LPT) compliance was in the hands of the Department of the Environment, it failed. TV licence payments through An Post have also run into problems, with widespread evasion.
In the minor matter of the drifting of our ship of State, it's not seven weeks, but more like seven months, since we have had any meaningful command from the bridge.
The so-called 'sport' of mixed martial arts (MMA) was finally exposed for what it truly is this week, with the tragic loss of a young man's life.
The best-case scenario for the life expectancy of the 32nd Dáil is probably a matter of months - it is very unlikely to reach a second birthday.
You really couldn't make it up, could you? The Soldiers of Destiny get a chance to go into government and turn back the clock of history by forming a historic partnership with the old enemy; instead, the whole proposition is dismissed in 15 minutes.
And so the cycle of futility goes on: Another Dáil sitting; another abortive attempt at government formation; another adjournment - all with no end game in sight.
One of the perks for the privilege of being a former TD is that you receive formal embossed invitations to national civic events like tomorrow's 1916 Easter Rising centenary commemoration.
While our politicians play childish games, normal service is resumed when it comes to fleecing consumers. Householders could have reasonably expected reductions in their electricity and gas bills of late.
Dear Micheál, Happy St Paddy's Day to you and Mary. Congratulations on the election performance and result. In an unguarded moment over a year ago, you told me for Fianna Fáil to win 40 seats would be a "phenomenal" result; 44 TDs surpassed insiders' optimistic estimates. Victories in both Kildares, Cavan/Monaghan, Sligo/Leitrim, Mayo, Cork North-West, Dublin Bay South and Donegal were exceptional achievements.
It's been a really bad 2016 so far for Fine Gael. Its seats have vaporised and now there is no clear sense of direction in the new Dáil. It urgently needs to devise a strategy that allows it to participate in a sustainable government, while simultaneously patching up the battered ship to weather the next election. It faces the grim prospect of being in office but not in power, forming a lame-duck minority administration that'll be kicked about by most TDs on the opposition benches. The party also needs a new leader's face on election posters.
It was jarring to hear the boss of one polling firm claiming pundits and bookies were blindsided by the demolition of Fine Gael as the campaign closed.
The election is over and, surprise surprise, we face another fine mess. Evidence, as if it were needed, that democracy is over-rated - the problem is, they haven't invented anything better. Only 59 TDs elected to our shiny new Dáil support the retention of water charges of €160/€260 annually. This includes members of the Green Party, who want free water allowances and tax relief. Labour and Fine Gael were scalded on the issue of Irish Water on the doorsteps of the nation.
As with earthquakes registering 10 on the Richter scale, it takes days to search through rubble to find remaining survivors. For Labour and Fine Gael, the political body count amounts to an epic disaster, ending the careers of household names like James Reilly, Jimmy Deenihan, Alan Shatter, Alex White and Emmet Stagg.
We have seen a shift in the tectonic plates in the Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael rivalry. Another election will be required for Fianna Fáil to become the largest party, but it is now poised to do so. The situation is very similar to 1981-82, when it took three elections to establish Garret FitzGerald as a national leader.
It was a short, sharp, three-week blitzkrieg campaign. I have looked at it constituency by constituency, as you will see below. From my analysis, the gamechanger will be the decimation of Labour Party - denoting a shift to the hard left from a moderate social democracy. The outcome will probably also result in a new Labour leader, more than likely Ged Nash.
Election 2016 has made a few things abundantly clear:
The one thing that Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin are absolutely in agreement about is their common refusal to contemplate a grand coalition of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil before polling day.
Irrespective of ideology, in every constituency across the political spectrum, there's an underlying opportunity to give the job to the best person, a person whom you'd hire as a professional advocate. One would like to presume that they might be literate, numerate and articulate.
Politicians have been inexplicably blindsided by the enormity and the emotion of the public reaction to the Regency Rampage and the reprisal assassination in Dublin.
So, finally, it's time to ask the audience; the election is on and judgment day is looming for the candidates.
It's Labour's turn to have its annual bash as Joan Burton's weary charges descend on Willie Penrose home turf - Westmeath.
Just before jumping headlong into the imminent General Election campaign, we must think deeply about Britain's EU referendum. A blind 'OMG' panic by Official Ireland at the prospect of the UK opting out of Europe seems to have taken root. Why has there been no time-out called to consider the benefits of Euro-scepticism?
The Blueshirt faithful gather today for Fine Gael's annual jamboree. Many will no doubt be muttering dark incantations under their breath about Enda's deferring of polling day from November to February.
Jim Gavin, Dublin's football supremo, has a simple but powerful message for his players before big showdowns: "Be the best that you can be." It's enough to win.
It's happened by stealth, beginning with each minister having a coterie of appointees. Then there was the State funding of political parties. This paved the way for the arrival of the dozens of apparatchiks to occupy Government Buildings, and Leinster House to manage their bosses' public relations. Spin doctors cost taxpayers many millions. They must justify their existence.
Who are the true inheritors of the legacy of the 1916 Easter Rebellion today? How should we commemorate 16 executed volunteers who espoused physical force? Further, how relevant is the Proclamation to the Ireland of 2016? Is it historical revisionism to equally acknowledge the innocent victims of the insurrection? What defines modern-day patriotism relative to 1916 republicanism?...
IT may be a new year, but it is still the same old story. Inaction on flooding, a slew of broken promises to the homeless, and then there's the perennial trolley crisis.
My leap year crystal ball is predicting 12 months of unrelenting drama. However, psephology is a hazardous game. Human intuition has in-built mechanisms compelling us to trust that history will repeat itself.
With the door slammed firmly on 2015, we might acknowledge the outstanding contributions of our betters in the rarefied worlds of politics, media, business and sport. My awards are random and indiscriminate and seek to cut through the contrived self-regarding clap-trap while recognising worthy work.
So much for the notion that Con Lucey's report on remuneration would provide closure to the IFA crisis of self-aggrandisement.
It's time to end the pretence. As the Coalition parties tick the final boxes in their election preparations, the real, untold story of the campaign will be apparent. Behind the forced facade of a joint mandate to continue in office, Fine Gael and Labour are in cut-throat competition in 28 of 40 constituencies.
The 'Changing Policing in Ireland' report excoriates senior Garda management. Yet again, Bob Olson and the Garda Inspectorate who compiled it expose how outdated, inefficient and lacking in technology our police force is.
To put it bluntly, the nation is in peril. It's no exaggeration to conclude that the ground under election platforms appears shakier with each passing week. Our economic history is punctuated by binges of electioneering, plunging the country into a subsequent decade of debt and recession.
Despite years of public sector pay retrenchment, no strikes ensued, but could the early New Year election campaign spark off a series of bushfires in the form of industrial disputes?
The words "I'm pregnant" feature amongst the happiest, most intimate moments within a life partnership - affirming parenthood as the ultimate expression of a couple's mutual love.
The IFA is engulfed in the worst public confidence crisis in its 60-year history - it has been rocked to its foundations. Every step of the way, since Co Carlow chairman Derek Deane read out a six-page letter at the Executive Council meeting on November 4 proposing a resolution seeking transparency of accounts and remuneration, the IFA leadership has been behind the curve. It has been left...
I've told you so - ad nauseum, on umpteen occasions over the past six years. Universal Health Insurance (UHI) was a utopian pipe dream that could never work in Ireland.
The Cabinet's capitulation to the Law Society and Bar Council is confirmed. A total of 235 amendments were conceded since Alan Shatter first published the Legal Services Regulation Bill four years ago.
A homeless summit has revealed that 700 families will be in emergency accommodation this Christmas.