Politicians must face down narrow interests in favour of saving more lives from drink-driving
So-called 'new politics' gets bad press. But New Politics can also do great things.
So-called 'new politics' gets bad press. But New Politics can also do great things.
A recent tragic court case has focused deserved public attention and empathy for the responsibilities borne by carers of children and people with disabilities. The evidence in the case outlining...
After five years of war, it's far too easy for the daily tragedies and atrocities in Syria and in the seas off Libya to be parked out of sight and out...
As we launch into the festive season, there couldn't be a more appropriate time to have a bill before the Oireachtas to address in a comprehensive way the devastation caused to society and human...
In the carousel that is Irish politics, things are never quite finished. They go round and round.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. If I wasn't an elder lemon versed in the politics of childcare for 30 years, I might be taken aback by the negative and even angry reaction by some parents, particularly stay-at-home mothers, to the childcare subsidy scheme announced by Minister for Children Katherine Zappone in last week's Budget.
We all look at the Budget subjectively. For many parents of young children, this Budget will be remembered for a significant policy move to subsidise the cost of childcare.
There is nothing like a deadline to concentrate the minds of politicians and propel them into action.
Canadian feminist politician Charlotte Whitton's well-worn quote is apt when it comes to Hillary Clinton's qualifications to be US president: "Whatever women do, they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good...Luckily, this is not difficult".
When it comes to the horror of war as revealed to us on a daily basis from Syria, have we reached a stage of mute helplessness? As retiring UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said this week in his farewell speech to the UN General Assembly meeting in New York: "Just when you think it cannot get any worse, the bar of depravity sinks lower."
A distressing feature of being chairperson of the Road Safety Authority is that each day I receive an email updating me on fatal crashes. Our role as the lead agency in road safety is to monitor deaths...
Finally a degree of normality has descended on the UK. While the Labour party remains in chaos, there is at least a functioning government in place. With Theresa May as prime minister, there is relief...
One thing is sure as we observe recent tumultuous events; a life in politics is a cruel trade, not for the faint-hearted. "I'm sure you're glad to be out of all that ... a thankless job" is a comment...
It's time for shouting at the radio again. Surely I am not alone to despair at the carry-on in Leinster House. At a time of unprecedented economic...
I have lost count of the umpteen media references to divorce since last Friday. Brexit has correctly been likened to a messy divorce, with all the related trauma for the parties concerned.
The sentencing of an unaccompanied learner driver this week for causing the death of a mother and daughter last Christmas in tragic circumstances has prompted an overdue debate on how to protect the public from high-risk drivers on our roads. The case exposed the all-consuming grief of those bereaved and the remorse of the young driver convicted.
Super moons, tsunamis, earthquakes, the warmest year ever on the planet, the election of a white nationalist as president of the United States - what's next? One longs for the passing of this year. The world seems in turmoil. What Donald Trump campaigned on is a week later diluted but not denied. A fence instead of the promised "wall". Only the worst of the criminals who are undocumented to...
When the first votes came in, I was glued to CNN, having followed the heady coverage all day. Whatever the outcome, it would be historic; the first woman president of the United States or victory to the ultimate outsider. It would be a close contest, but most people felt Mrs Clinton would shade it. Yet as those early results came in from Kentucky and Indiana marked red on the map of...
The Dáil debate and vigil calling for the Government to offer sanctuary to 200 refugee children stranded in Calais following the demolition of the so-called 'Jungle' camp presents a challenge.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny's feisty declaration that he has no intention of vacating the stage is timely. Persistent rumblings by cheerleaders of those eager to replace him as party leader do nothing to reassure citizens that matters are under control. This unusual minority administration has enough to be getting on with, keeping itself together on a weekly basis, without the distractions of a...
It seems not a day passes without a fatal crash featuring on our news headlines. Already this year, 130 people have died violently on our roads; 18 more than for the same period last year.
Like it or not, the European Commission's ruling on Apple's Tax affairs and Ireland has been a defining political event in several ways. It has propelled Ireland's tax law on to the international stage in spectacular fashion by the charge of our State's complicity in tax evasion on a massive scale and prompted a review of our relationship with the European Union. It would be difficult to imagine a...
Ministers returning to work after the summer break have had to hit the ground running. The European Commission's ruling that Ireland granted illegal tax benefits and state aid to Apple was a clock-stopper. Although expected, the amount, more than €13bn, sent shockwaves around the Irish and American business community. Notwithstanding the Government's denial of allegations of...
Watching the healthy and joyful faces of Team Ireland arriving home to loved ones in Dublin Airport, it was impossible not to contrast their achievements with the tawdry allegations swirling around the allocation of Irish Olympic tickets.
When it comes to pantomime, the Trump presidential campaign is the show that keeps on giving. Some of us have even become addicted to regularly checking the internet for the latest Trumpism.
The Brexit referendum campaign has given us all a comprehensive insight into the British psyche and polity. Those wonderful unscripted vox pops with ordinary voters on the TV are miles more instructive than all the talking heads and political experts digesting the polls and interrogating the conflicting predictions.
Sometimes the courts provide us with a window into Irish life and usually it's not a pretty sight. A report published this week by Women's Aid revealed very high levels of assaults within so-called loving relationships.
As polls narrow in favour of a Brexit and the prospect looms of seismic political disruption on these islands, is it time to panic? It is certainly time for some serious interventions by people of influence.
The Government's fragility was revealed once again this week when it lost a Dáil vote. Fianna Fáil supported a Labour Party private members motion on workers' rights. The numbers are such that every day has the potential for discord and defeat.
It annoys me when I hear mutterings of discontent about President Higgins wandering into the political space. Whoever suggested or anticipated that Michael D Higgins, veteran left-wing intellectual and politician, was going to retreat into anodyne retirement in the Áras?
As new ministers settle into their offices they are unlikely to be granted a honeymoon period. Public tolerance has been exhausted by the length of time it took to cobble together the new administration. The chaotic scenes in the Dáil leading up to the election of Taoiseach Enda Kenny, with last-minute horse trading with Independents, did nothing to assuage concerns about the...
In the old days, most politicians wanted to be in government. For Fianna Fáil, government was the norm. Fine Gael, always in second place ahead of Labour, fluctuated in popularity depending on its leader. Labour held up the rear, distinguishing itself by vigorous opposition to successive Fianna Fáil administrations, particularly in the Spring era.
There was a point this week when it appeared the "talks" were going nowhere. For most observers, this represented a disappointing failure of politics; a straightforward example of an inability to shift from fixed positions to a reasonable compromise. Another election loomed, an option to which I viewed as being preferable to a total cave in by Fine Gael to Fianna Fáil's populist policy of...
Another week of stalemate, with little progress made in the talks to form a sustainable government. The change of venue from Leinster House to the scholarly surroundings of Trinity College down the road just adds to the absurdity of it all.
Cynicism about politics is terrible; something which I deplore whenever I encounter it. I believe in politics, its power to influence change and make life better for people. I believe in our democratic institutions, our Constitution and our capacity as a civilised population to manage our own affairs through the vehicle of an elected parliament and government.
Marking the centenary of the Easter Rising was always going to be a delicate task. But in the round, the official celebrations were respectful, inclusive and blessed with good weather. Many of us learned more about the emergence of our State than we previously knew. For too long, perhaps, any detailed exploration of the Rising was avoided for fear of glorifying the physical force and...
Brussels, essentially the capital of the EU, has joined Paris, Ankara and Istanbul as the latest terrorist site. London and Madrid have also been victims in the past. Targeting strategic transport hubs to maximise destruction and civilian casualties is a hallmark of terrorism. Although on this island we have been spared the attention of Isil, we, of all Europeans, have a unique understanding of...
Anyone who has seen the movie 'Zero Dark Thirty' about the black ops mission to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden will recall the frustration and impatience of the female CIA agent Maya, played by Jessica Chastain, while awaiting approval to mount an assault on a suspect compound in Pakistan.
Two weeks post-election and all we have are vague mutterings about the formation of a possible government comprising the two big parties down the road.
One week on, the post-election landscape is not a pretty sight. Baffled citizens gaze at what seems like an unholy mess.
The rugby was a welcome distraction and although our boys were defeated, it was break from the main event. But coverage of the election was compelling, box office viewing. Thank God the electronic voting never caught on - there is something uniquely attractive about our paper counts. It was always going to be an exciting day of reckoning and change in Irish politics.
After all the noise and a blizzard of polls, today people will quietly make their way to polling stations. The anger on the radio has finally receded. Time for everyone to reflect and "think twice".
The three-week election campaign is proving long and short in equal measure. Time can drag, as in the first week, as contenders play safe for fear of losing ground. But this week, time was flying, with so much to be conveyed to voters; the political equivalent of speed dating. The Government parties must communicate their achievements, particularly at a time of an unprecedented...
No one should minimise the journey travelled by Irish republicans from war to politics. It has been a spectacular example of transition from all-out armed struggle against British military might and state security agencies to a gradual engagement, negotiations and, ultimately, a political settlement. The peace process, and Sinn Féin's contribution to it, has transformed Northern Ireland and delivered...
When, as expected, a breathless Taoiseach announced to the Dáil that he was off to the Park on Wednesday morning, he still caught people off guard. Away he sped without a look back, leaving deputies with stuff unsaid and legislation unfinished. The 31st Dáil had run its course.
The Taoiseach launched Social Innovation Fund Ireland this week. Often touted as the new big idea, social innovation is not really a new concept, just a modern way of describing how people and organisations can more effectively respond to a social problem or unmet need.
As the General Election looms ever closer, there is no shortage of experts spouting predictions of the make-up of the next Government. Some are so cock sure of themselves as to call exact outcomes in individual constituencies as if it was a matter of a mathematical equation. As a former candidate over four elections, I question the certainties of pollsters, psephologists and pundits, particularly when it comes to the fate of the smaller party in coalitions.
There is nothing like a mugging on live radio and the white heat of public anger to produce a spectacular U-turn. Sometimes the grievance aired is justified - and this week, although the target was a charity and not the Government for a change, the outrage was no less vocal. It was a public relations crisis for a well-regarded charity.
All politics is local and undoubtedly this Government will be judged on its performance primarily on national issues which mostly concern the electorate. That reckoning is imminent as an election draws ever closer. With all the domestic demands of unprecedented floods and storm damage, angry nurses and inter-party rivalry, inevitably the political and media focus has drifted away from foreign affairs.
Media coverage of State papers from 1985 this week provided a window into the way we were 30 years ago.
As the year comes to a close, road safety campaigners can be grateful that fatalities and serious injuries on our roads have decreased over the previous year. This reverses a worrying trend for the two previous years, 2013 and 2014, which showed an increase in fatal road crashes. Really significant and measurable progress has been achieved in making Irish roads safer since the late nineties and, in particular, since the setting up of the Road Safety Authority in 2006.
The Christmas tree is up on Leinster Lawn but the mood in Leinster House is fractious and far from festive. Decks are being cleared as the Government pushes through reams of legislation before the end of term. After the Christmas break there is no knowing what could happen and deputies across the board are on election footing, with several in the last-chance saloon.
In the week when German Chancellor Angela Merkel was named 'Person of the year' by 'Time' magazine for her role in the Greek debt crisis and her heroic political response to the migrant crisis in Europe, something equally significant happened on our own island. For the first time ever, a woman - Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA Arlene Foster - has emerged as the likely successor to Peter Robinson as leader of the DUP and First Minister of Northern Ireland.
There are times, like this week, when the UK and its politics feels very distant from ours. Their parliament is definitely a global stage while ours can seem local, even parochial, by comparison.
A benign aspect of the peace process these days is that nothing much happens. Time passes slowly, particularly in the fallow periods when the power-sharing institutions are semi-suspended, as they have been for the last 10 weeks, to allow talks to resolve the latest political "crisis" in Northern Ireland.
It was probably inevitable that it would end up in the courts. For the last year, there has been skin and hair flying at constituency level over the selection of candidates to be on the party ticket at the forthcoming election.
Advocates and campaigners for climate justice struggle to make the threat of global warming relevant to the general public. People are busy and understandably preoccupied by the day-to-day struggles of raising families and responding to the demands of work. Some people even find it hard to keep up with the routine domestic political agenda and rely on the media to keep abreast of current affairs.
As chair of the Road Safety Authority, I deal a lot with statistics. Sadly, the only way we can measure the success of our road safety initiatives is by the number of deaths per year on the roads. We benchmark ourselves by reference to these fatality figures each year and measure our performance against the numbers of deaths in other countries. I receive an email each day of road traffic fatalities; a chilling reminder of the toll of death and serious injury on our roads. This ensures that those of us charged with road safety do not become complacent.
So, despite what Mr Adams and his colleagues say, the IRA has not "gone away." This is a clear finding of both security reports on paramilitaries released this week. The first from the British Government-appointed panel, made for uncomfortable reading, not only for unionists. This independent group comprising three respected individuals was tasked with carrying out an up-to-date assessment of the extent of activities by paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland, an exercise prompted by the shock declaration by the PSNI that PIRA members were involved in the murder...
Sporting euphoria was rampant last weekend, as our national teams played on the world stage with distinction. But national pride was eclipsed by two separate tragic incidents back home.
With the final Budget of this administration three days away, one would expect forensic budgetary and fiscal analysis of the direction the Government should take.
The Government parties probably hoped for a bounce in popularity in the wake of the launch of the €27bn capital spending programme this week. What a change from the empty coffers of the last six years when budgets were tight and the cupboard was bare as far as spending was concerned. One might have expected that some modicum of welcome would be forthcoming in public discourse...
Making our roads safer is a challenge. We have made remarkable progress in reducing death and serious injuries on our roads over the last three decades. This has come about by Government and State agencies taking a cross-sectoral, strategic approach. Better legislation, enforcement by gardaí and a concerted move by local authorities and the NRA in road improvement have been crucial elements of this strategy. The Road Safety Authority, which I now chair, was established in 2006 with a remit to make Ireland's roads safer.
RTÉ's Tommy Gorman is back on our screens every evening these days, against the familiar backdrop of Stormont. His task, for which he retains admirable enthusiasm, is the painstaking analysis of the never-ending fluctuations in the peace process. Like a political weather man, he forecasts and assesses the depth and gravity of the most recent crisis in Northern Ireland.
The Irish Government decision this week to receive 4,000 refugees over a two-year period in response to the escalating refugee crisis is to be welcomed. The eventual figure may exceed that, given the right to family reunification. Although Ireland has played an important role in the sea rescue of migrants in the Mediterranean, there was a widespread view that our own history of...
I was abroad when the furore started about the continuing existence of the IRA and its alleged involvement in the recent murders of Kevin McGuigan and Jock Davison.
To use an Irish expression, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is a 'class act'. Political observers in Germany speak of her "unshakeable intellectual self-confidence", while at the same time remaining popular as an "honest unspun politician".
At a time of global instability, war and mass displacement of populations in the Middle East and Africa, we need wise counsel. Given the tendency of media and politics to focus on sensational aspects of migration such as the numbers arriving in Europe and how to "stem the flows" of migrants, the voices of tolerance are few and far between.
There were echoes of the electronic voting machines debacle this week with yet another twist in the Irish Water saga.
In the final days of negotiations leading to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, there was a frantic scramble to meet the deadline set by talks chairman Senator George Mitchell. Because the various issues were being discussed across different strands, often contemporaneously, the challenge was to commit them all to a seamless interlocking document.
Claims made under Dáil privilege by Independent Deputy Mick Wallace this week were, if true, sensational and grave. It would be folly of the highest order to make light of them.
It has been a long-running saga but this week edged us closer to the finale of the Greek financial crisis. The country's banks and the economy have been on life support thanks to emergency funding capped at €88.6 billion from the ECB. But missing the deadline for repayment of the IMF loan plunged the country into potential bankruptcy and exit of the eurozone, a calamitous scenario which persists if the terms of a third bailout cannot be agreed tomorrow.
It's that time of year when we get ready to enjoy better weather at home or abroad by swimming and lounging on the beach. Inevitably, for many of us, it is a time for qualms about baring our bodies to the world at large, as distinct from routine exposures to loved ones.
The barbaric murder of nine worshippers in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17 by white supremacist Dylann Roof is the latest in a series of race-related incidents which has shaken American complacency about the state of race relations.
To lose a loved one suddenly in an accident is an irreversible assault on a family. This reality came home to several Dublin families this week arising from the Berkeley tragedy in the United States, when six young Irish students were killed in a balcony collapse and seven more were seriously injured.
Having more women leaders is a serious societal goal. The dearth of women in politics at the time of Mary Robinson's ground-breaking election as President of Ireland was what prompted me and a handful of others to run for election. Frances Fitzgerald, now Minister for Justice, was, like me, involved in the women's movement in the early nineties, and we crossed the bridge from private to public life in electoral politics with a certain amount of trepidation. Since then the number of female TDs has remained stubbornly low at around 15pc and out of line with the participation of women in...
Politics, like King Lear's thankless child, can be "sharper than a serpent's tooth." The Government must be sickened by the week's events. Only last weekend the Coalition parties were flying high in the polls. Brendan Howlin had secured a wage deal with the public service unions; there was even speculation about an early election. Unemployment, at 9.8pc, was lowest since 2009 and tax revenues were way ahead of projections. But to quote Pat Rabbitte: "Bond yields butter no parsnips."
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon's visit this week was timely. Post-referendum euphoria suggest our human rights credentials are in good order.
Perhaps one should not be surprised that the handshake with the Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams, dominated media coverage of the historic visit this week by Prince Charles to Ireland. It was, of course, a significant event in strengthening Anglo- Irish relations and the peace process; following on from the State visit to the UK and the Queen's visit. Such events are hugely important in rebuilding British- Irish relations, given the legacy of our troubled past. But the exaggerated media focus on Sinn Féin at each fragile turn can be overplayed.
There will be a national sigh of relief when this constitutional referendum campaign is over. For me, there is a weary familiarity with both sides of the argument, to the point that many voters are tired of the conversation. I am referring, of course, to the referendum on marriage equality, not the other one, which enjoys spectacular disinterest.
As an awestruck observer of the unfolding humanitarian refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, a theme recurs from my time as Minister for overseas development and human rights from 1997 to 2002. Of speeches made over that period, at home and abroad, advocating an increase in aid budgets for the poor countries of the world, most included the argument that it was in the economic and security...
For as long as we can recall, alcohol - the demon drink - has been the drug of choice for the Irish. It has been condemned as the "root of all evil" by those who disapprove of its collateral damage in terms of public health, violence, the destruction of relationships, economic and sexual recklessness, road safety and general devastation of lives.
As a former TD, I am dismayed by the nonchalance of Deputy Mary Lou McDonald and her party to the censure by the Committee of Procedure and Privileges following an investigation into her Dáil statements, which found she should not have stated that it had been alleged several former members of the House and a deceased member of the judiciary held Ansbacher accounts.
Just as the horrors of the Graham Dwyer trial recede, violence against women has again come calling. The agonising four-day search and tragic discovery of the body of young Irishwoman Karen Buckley in Glasgow plunged all parents of young adults into a state of dread and heartbreak. With so many of our young adult children in far-flung cities, making their way as emigrants, the plight of the Buckley family resonates with thousands of Irish families.
Fine Gael has ratcheted up the election pressure by issuing an edict that all selection conventions be done and dusted by October – six months ahead of the General Election, should the government run its full term.
Nearly five years into the Syrian civil war there seems a capacity for the world to look the other way. This despite it being described as the greatest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War.
Most Irish people will remember last Saturday for one thing alone. It was a glorious day of rugby, the thrills and spills of which will long be eulogised by Irish sports fans all over the world.
It has been a bruising week for Sinn Féin. New disclosures about the party's mishandling of child abuse by republicans and the dispensing of summary justice has propelled them from the celebratory hubris of last weekend's Ard Fheis to a major political storm north and south.
Of all the social problems we face in Ireland, perhaps the most complex and pathetic is the human condition of homelessness and addiction.
The unopposed passage in the Dáil this week of a law Bill (Jake's law) to introduce a 20kph speed limit in residential areas is a measure of the support across all political parties for strengthening rules to promote road safety.
For the first time since I left politics, I found myself contemplating how I would vote if I was still there.
The stand-off with the Ceann Comhairle was brewing for a while. There have been walk-outs, sit-ins and almost routine disregard for the Chair's rulings, contributing to unprecedented parliamentary disruption and discord. Few anticipated it might come to a vote of no confidence in the holder of this constitutional office. After all, there had been no personal misconduct on Sean Barrett's part...
Since Sunday, all eyes have been transfixed by the political drama in Greece. Whatever your leanings, it makes for compelling viewing. As bailout countries, we have much in common, yet much which divides us. While Ireland has exited our troika bailout with commendable plaudits and now shows signs of recovery and job creation, the story in Greece was and is very different.
Despite legislation now in place requiring 30pc of candidates fielded by political parties to be women at the next general election, there are still mutterings of discontent in the big parties. Everyone supports equality, but the uncomfortable truth is that more women means fewer men.
There was an important gathering in Dublin Castle this week when ambassadors and heads of Irish missions in 80 locations worldwide convened for a major conference on Irish foreign policy. 'The Global Island: Ireland's Foreign Policy for a Changing World' sets out the "core values" of Ireland's engagement in such areas as international development, human rights, disarmament, UN peacekeeping and the search for peace in the Middle East. Foreign Affairs Minister Charles Flanagan said "in the world of 2015 nothing is entirely foreign or wholly domestic".
As a former Progressive Democrat, queries inevitably veer in my direction once the subject of a new political party is raised. Lucinda's latest offering turned out to be yet another anti-climax, despite the fanfare and strategic timing.
In 2014, 196 precious lives ended on our roads. That's six more than last year. These people are gone forever but for loved ones they are not just year-end statistics.
As a former politician, out of the fray since 2007, the most frequent question I am asked is whether I "miss it all."
One can imagine the Taoiseach's groan when Health Minister Leo Varadkar weighed into the abortion debate.
Sometimes it's like we are living in a maelstrom of disclosures, exposures and enquiries in this country. The past is never far away, with so-called legacy issues dominating public discourse north and south of the island.
Recent plans by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald to criminalise the users of prostitutes have raised warnings about the oldest profession being pushed underground and rendered more dangerous for sex workers.
There is no denying an air of instability, anarchy, even revolution in the body politic of late. The scale and style of civil unrest and political protest over water can of course be tracked back to grievance about the economic and banking collapse and the measures introduced to aid the national recovery.
Given my new responsibilities with Road Safety, I have an enhanced, even acute awareness of road deaths these days.
I have long been an advocate for the greater participation of women in public life. The dearth of women in politics was what propelled me into politics.
No Government likes to climb down, apologise or reverse red-faced out of a policy decision but sometimes in politics it is the least bad option.
Although profound improvements have been achieved over the last decade in the number of fatal crashes on Irish roads, there is no cause for complacency.
Mairia Cahill is intelligent, attractive and credible. These attributes have contributed to the fomenting of unparalleled political difficulties for Sinn Fein.
Despite much of it being leaked in advance, all eyes were trained on Leinster House for the first post-bail-out Budget. It was a damp squib. Gone are the days of high suspense, locked doors, and pages hot off the copier being hastily circulated to deputies just before the minister rose.
Some commentators have been playing down the significance of this week's opinion poll showing Sinn Fein level for the first time with Fine Gael at 24pc.
The recent 20th anniversary of the IRA ceasefire has provided a context for reviews of the distance travelled politically since that seminal event. The passing of both Albert Reynolds and Reverend Ian Paisley have generated much reflection at things said, risks taken and fixed positions changed ultimately for the greater good of stability and peace. By any measure, the peace process has...
Earlier this year, at the inauguration of Northern Irish judge Donnell Deeny as Pro-Chancellor of Trinity College, I was gobsmacked to learn of the sharp decline in student numbers from the North at Trinity.
It was an unremarkable start to the autumn Dail session. Each party kicked off with the now familiar "away day", a process I will forever associate with Conor Lenihan famously falling asleep during a live morning TV interview. Th troops -with an election only 18 months away and rested after a decent break - should be battle ready.
The cries for help emanating from the Stormont Executive are hardly surprising. For months now there has been discord in the power-sharing executive between Sinn Fein and the DUP. The two leaders can fake it when abroad, but at home tensions are palpable.
Every now and then an Irish person takes to the world stage and shines. Usually it is in a sporting context, and boy do we treasure those unique moments of achievement. It is less common, however, that an Irish person from a business or political background spontaneously and graciously steps up and makes a critical statement of global significance.
There was a weary sense of deja vu this week. My favourite TV programme is Reeling in the Years, which masterfully combines popular music and political archive. This week the cycle was in the early 1990s. There was a remarkable similarity of content with current affairs, ranging from the first Iraq war, Bosnia, unrest in Russia and the Middle East and the X Case.